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Chapter 25
               Dumb Laws
• When two trains meet each other at a
  railroad crossing, each shall come to a full
  stop and neither shall proceed until the other
  has gone.
• It is illegal to take more than three sips of
  beer at a time while standing.
• You can be legally married by publicly
  introducing a person as your wife/husband
  three times
               Dumb Laws
• It is illegal to milk another person’s cow.
• A recently passed anticrime law requires
  criminals to give their victims 24-hour
  notice orally or in writing, and to explain
  the nature of the crime to be committed.
• Austin--wire cutters cannot be carried in
  your pocket.
               Dumb Laws
• Abilene--it is illegal to idle or loiter
  anyplace within the corporate city limits of
  the city for the purpose of flirting.
• Houston--Beer may not be purchased after
  midnight on a Sunday, but it may be
  purchased on Monday.
• Mesquite--it is illegal for children to have
  unusual haircuts.
  Courts and the Federal System
• America’s judicial structure is divided into
  a national court system for each of the
  states. Most legal disputes are solved.
• Federal criminal cases--are confined to
  those matters that have some direct or
  indirect connection with federal activity.
                   Courts
• Federal civil cases--are limited to such
  matters as bankruptcy petitions, customs,
  tax disputes, patents, and certain cases
  involving parties from different states and at
  least $50,000.
• In practice most legal disputes are settled
  through the process of negotiation and
  compromise (quicker and less expensive).
           Municipal Courts
• These courts are often labeled “traffic
  courts” because most of their
  responsibilities relate to the prosecution of
  offenders driving motor vehicles. They have
  no civil jurisdiction (no lawsuits are
  conducted).
• All cases are criminal and involve Class C
  Misdemeanors (maximum $500 fine).
           Municipal Courts
• Also deals with violations of city
  ordinances with fines up to $2000.

• Under 1989 statute, cities may derive up to
  30% of their budgets from “unhappy
  motorist”
     Justice of the Peace Courts
• Frequently perform marriages, certify
  deaths, and do other general duties.

• Each J.P. is elected to a four-year term, and
  his/her duties vary depending on the
  population of the county
• JPs do not have to be attorneys--but must
  have special training classes
    Justice of the Peace Courts
• JP courts have both criminal and civil
  jurisdiction.

• JP courts act as Small Claims Courts with
  disputes of under $5,000.
                  Courts
• Most criminal cases are resolved through a
  “plea bargain.”
• Some of the most important judicial
  decisions are not mad at the original trial
  but on appeal (losing party taking the case
  to a higher court).
         Texas Court System
• Each of the state’s 254 counties has a
  constitutional county court, which has both
  criminal and civil jurisdiction.
• District Courts--are the basic trial courts in
  the the state of Texas. They hear felony
  cases and have jurisdiction in civil matters
  involving $200 or more. Civil matters make
  up more than two-thirds of the caseload of
  the district court.
       Texas Courts of Appeal
• The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and
  the Texas Supreme Court comprise the
  state’s appellate court system.
• Texas has 14 courts of appeal, each serving
  a specific geographic area called a Court of
  Appeals District. The courts of appeals hear
  both civil and criminal cases.
Texas Courts of Appeal
      Courts of Appeal
• .
                    Judges
• The length of term, method of selection,
  salary, and qualification of Texas judges
  vary from court to court. Their terms in
  office range from two to six years.
• Their profile is similar to the profile of the
  legislative and executive officeholders.
                 Texas Judges
• Texas is one of forty-seven states that elects
  judges on a partisan ballot.
• Despite the formality of an election system, about
  half of the state’s district and appellate judges first
  reach the bench through appointment.
• The Texas Constitution empowers the governor to
  staff newly created courts and to fill vacancies.
Reform
      Judges Leaving the Bench
• Judges leave the bench for a variety of
  reasons.
  –   Death
  –   defeat
  –   removed for incompetence or unethical reasons
  –   impeachment
          Actions of Judges
• Do Texas judges practice judicial activism
  or judicial restraint?
             Crime Statistics
• Texas leads the nation in prison building--
  need to get tough on criminals to curb the
  rising crime rate.
• Critics argue that the state’s prison building
  is ineffective and inefficient.
• In 1994, the average American had one
  chance in nineteen of being a victim of a
  serious crime--one in fourteen in Texas.
                                                   OVERALL CRIME RATE

         1600000



         1400000



         1200000



         1000000
NUMBER




          800000                                                                                           Number



          600000



          400000



          200000



                   0
                       1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001
                                                             YEAR
                                                  VIOLENT CRIME RATE

         160000



         140000



         120000



         100000
NUMBER




          80000                                                                                           VCR



          60000



          40000



          20000



                  0
                      1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001
                                                            YEAR
                                            VIOLENT CRIMES/1000


         900


         800


         700


         600
NUMBER




         500

                                                                                                   VCR/1000
         400


         300


         200


         100


           0
               1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001
                                                     YEAR
            Crime Statistics
• The crime rate is dropping nationwide and
  in Texas. Why?

• If the crime rate is falling, why don’t we
  feel safe?
                 Reasons
• The incidence of violent crime hasn’t fallen
  as much as the incidence of property crime.

• Violent crime is becoming more random.

• The media focus on violent crimes.   (DIANE
  MUTZ)
                                                VIOLENT CRIME/PROPERTY CRIME

              900


              800


              700



              600
PER 100,000




              500
                                                                                                         VIOLENT
                                                                                                         PROPERTY (X10)
              400


              300



              200


              100



                0
                    1990   1991   1992   1993    1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001
                                                           YEAR
 Crime in Rural vs.Urban Areas
• Low-income persons are more likely to be
  victims of violent crimes.

• Middle and upper-class are more likely to
  be victims of property crime.
• Young people are more frequently
  victimized than older persons.
                  Crime
• Except in the case of rape, men are more
  likely to be crime victims than women.

• Offenses occur more often against racial
  and ethnic minorities than non-Hispanic
  whites
   Criminal Prosecution Process
• Begins with the arrest (can be based on
  probable cause).
• Booked at the police station
• If charges are filed, suspects are brought
  before the judge for arraignment, at which
  time a plea is entered (guilty, not guilty, no
  contest).
• Bail is set--money posted to guarantee
  appearance in court.
                  Process
• The Texas Constitution requires a grand-
  jury indictment in all felony cases.

• The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that
  criminal defendants are constitutionally
  entitled to be represented by an attorney
  regardless of their financial status (may lack
  time, resources, motivation).
                  Process
• Accused has the right to a trial by jury (6-
  misdemeanor, 12-felony)
• Few trials run the gamut of the court
  system--abandoned or plea bargained.
• Under Texas law, possible sentences vary,
  depending on the severity of the crime.
  Texas law permits the judge or jury to grant
  probation or deferred adjudication.
               Grand Jury
• District Judge appoints a jury commission
  (3-5 citizens)
• The jury commission prepares a list of
  prospective Grand Jurors.
• The Judge then narrows the list down to
  twelve and appoints a foreman.
Capital Punishment
          Capital Punishment
• Since 1976, 861 individuals have been executed in
  the United States.
• Texas leads the way with 306--followed by
  Virginia (88) and Missouri (60).
• Currently in Texas 454 individuals are on death
  row (446M+8FM).
• Critics still argue that it is discriminatory.
• Automatic appeal with the death penalty.
        Capital Punishment
• Murder Rate per 100,000
• Number of Executions
• Correlation = +.170
            Juvenile Justice
• Though the overall crime rate has been
  falling--the rates for the young are climbing.
• Juveniles as young as 14 may be charged as
  adults.
• Cases tried in juvenile court can be heard
  under the family law code, which is a civil
  law code rather than criminal code.
               Corrections
• 1972--Ruiz v. Estella
• While the state struggled to deal with Ruiz
  v. Estella, poor planning be the legislature
  and government made the problems of
  overcrowding worse.
• The Legislature passed dozens of anti-crime
  bill, upgrading the seriousness of certain
  offenses and increasing prison time--failed
  to expand prison space.
             Prison Release
• Parole (1/4 of sentences)

• In Texas 48% of inmates released from state
  prisons are rearrested for a serious crime
  within three years of their release.
                                  3-YEAR RECIDIVISM RATES-SEX OFFENDERS

          60%




          50%




          40%
PERCENT




          30%




          20%




          10%




           0%
                All Of f enders             Sex Assault          SA w/child   Indecency
                                                          TYPE
                             3-YEAR RATE FOR JUVENILES

          55


          54


          53


          52
PERCENT




          51

                                                                       PERCENT
          50


          49


          48


          47


          46
               1992   1993   1994      1995     1996     1997   1998
                                       YEAR

				
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posted:10/14/2011
language:English
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