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Apr 1, 2020 | Criminal law

If you or a loved one have been arrested or denied bail during this pandemic Contact Mingledorff Law immediately, [nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-1″].

With the COVID-19 pandemic snowballing, isolation is more important than ever to aid in stopping the spread of this virus. This includes incarceration or government custody of any sort. Detention in a public facility is a risk to your health, and the health of the public.

Mingledorff Law is currently engaging with their Client’s courts through telephone and electronic communication to ensure minimal custody. What this means is if you or someone you care about has ben arrested, we can help get them out of custody as quickly as possible by arguing their safety in court.

We have prepared paperwork which has argues the change in circumstances related o COVID in Harris County and jails generally; that those in custody are particularly vulnerable; that release is safer than detention; and that crisis is inevitable in jail.

With these arguments Mingledorff Law Firm has prepared a written motion that we will file in the court the arrestee has been assigned. Once this paperwork is filed, we will then be able to request an immediate hearing via telephone or video technology. In our request for hearing we have made it clear to the courts that expediency is of the utmost importance to preserve community health and prevent risk of spread of COVID to whomever was arrested, or even transmission into a jail facility.

This motion and request for hearing can be prepared and filed at a moments notice, do not wait. RING MING [nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-1″]

Some facts to know about COVID-19 and their impact on Harris County, Texas bail thus far (March 31st, 2020)

Jails are less than desirable than ever before with the onset spread of COVID. Harris County jails, for example, have a capacity of 9,434 inmates, but have at times held more than 12,000. (See Harris County Jail Numbers). This means a new detainee placed in Harris County’s custody could come into immediate contact with thousands of potential Coronavirus hosts.

To make matters worse, on March 29th, 2020, Harris County jails reported an inmate with a confirmed case of COVID, with 30 other inmates suspected who are showing symptoms of the virus. (See Harris County Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19) Harris County sherriff has also confirmed via twitter that two deputies who oversee inmates have confirmed cases of COVID-19. (See HSCO Twitter Feed on Confirmed Deputy Cases)

Clearly, jail is a facility that must be avoided at all costs during COVID-19 pandemic, even in the event you or a loved one is arrested for a crime!

COVID Bail Policies That Affect Nonviolent Accused Offenders:

“Calling the Harris County Jail a ‘ticking time bomb,’ County Judge Lina Hidalgo said about 1,000 ‘non-violent’ inmates will be released.” (See Article Regarding Release of Inmates) Non-violent may be interpreted as the crimes listed in the bulleted list below, however, that list has been released and currently applies exclusively to Felony Court’s within Harris County.

On March 22nd, 2020 Harris County Judge, Honorable Judge Franklin Bynum of County Criminal Court Number 8 addressed the COVID-19 Pandemic that we are going through right now and the danger that people in custody are being placed in. Specifically Judge Bynum stated that “people are detained in the Harris county jail, and their detention alone is a public health emergency” in a public video online entitled DISP Court Hearing in Cause #2305212 in Harris County Court at Law # 8. ( accessed on March 25, 2020)

Felony Courts have also been proactive in preventing unnecessary inmate custody:

“In an effort lo stem the tide of accused citizens being admitted to the Harris County Jail and to expedite the release of those arrested, the Harris County District Court Judges Trying Criminal Cases have approved a General Order Bond to facilitate the immediate release of people arrested and charged with certain non-violent state jail felony offenses, No person shall I be released under this General Order Bond who already has an open or pending felony case, or who has an open warrant or hold, or who is on supervised release, such as felony probation or felony deferred adjudication.

Effective immediately, upon identification by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and before the matter is placed on the Hearing Officers’ docket, Harris County Pretrial Services is ORDERED to process the immediate release of the following persons under this General Order Bond and to be supervised by Pretrial Services

Any person booked into the Harris Joint Processing Center, arrested for the offenses listed below, who is not already on felony probation or felony deferred ;adjudication, or does not have another warrant, hold, or pending felony charge:

• Bribery. 36.02

• Credit or Debit Card Abuse. 21.31 (d)

• Criminal Mischief. 28.Q_,

• Electronic Access Interference, 33 022

• Delivery of Marihuana. 48 I .120(b)(3)

• False Statement to Obtain Property or Credit, 32.32

• Forgery, 31.23(e)

• Fraudulent Transfer of a Motor Vehicle, 32.34

• Fraudulern Use or Possession of Identifying Information. 32.5 l(c)(2)

• Graffiti, 28,08

• Health Care Fraud, 35A.02(b)(4)-(6)

• Insurance Fraud, 35.02(c)(4)-(6)

• Manufacture or Delivery of Substance in Penalty Group 1.481.112(b)

• Possession of Substance in Penalty Group 1. 481.112(b)

• Manufacture, Possession. or Delivery of Unlawful Telecommunication, Device, 33A.03

• Possession of Marihuana. 48. 121 (b)(3)

• Theft, 3103{e)(4)

• Theft of Service. 31.04(e)(4)”

(See Harris County General Order Bond for Certain Offenses)

COVID Bail Policies That Affect Violent Accused Offenders and Those Who Cannot Afford Bail:

On March 29th, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abott ordered Executive Order GA-13, relating to detention in county and municipal jails during the COVID-19 disaster. This order essentially suspends the release of detained Texans in county jail if they cannot post bail. This order is especially strict on bail policies related to Texans previously convicted of a violent crime.

Mingledorff Law believes this Order to be unconstitutional and arguing in Court fight for citizen’s rights. We have prepared well-researched motions and are arguing in court to combat the constitutionality of this Order.

This order has consequences that affect Texan’s constitutional rights to speedy trial, effective assistance of Counsel, and due process, right to free travel, and others. In addition, there are public health concerns related to inmate custody.

Abbot’s claims his decision-making is justified through statements made in the order:

WHEREAS, such releases from county or municipal jails of those charged with, convicted of, or having a history of offenses involving physical violence or threats of physical violence would not only gravely threaten public safety, but would also hinder efforts to cope with the COVID-19 disaster; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Judicial Council has recently reminded judges that individuals who pose a significant risk to the community or the victim, or who present a significant risk of flight, should be detained, and Texas judges are legally required and oath-bound to determine bail on an individualized basis after considering the factors mandated by Article 17 .15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not include the option of releases based solely on concerns or fears surrounding COVID-19.” (See Governor of Texas’ Executive Order GA-13 Jails and Bail)

See What to Know About Texas Governor’s Order GA-13 Relating to Bail Policies

Safety Measures Implemented by Harris County Sherriff

Harris County Sherriff’s Office has also released a statement regarding their approach to inmate custody during Coronavirus

“In addition to this guidance, the Sheriff’s Office has provided deputies and jail staff access to Personal Protective Equipment that includes face masks, eye goggles, gloves, and body suits. Patrol deputies have been given cleaning materials that they are using to disinfect their vehicles any time they are called upon to transport a suspect.

In the jail, cleaning crews have increased the frequency of cleaning operations. In addition, all employees and volunteers entering the jail system are being checked for fever each time they enter the building.

Q: Have there been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Harris County Jail?

A: No

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted jail visitation?

A: Jail visitation has been suspended indefinitely.

Attorney-client interviews and other essential visits are not be affected. In order to assure family and friends are being able to communicate with their love ones, a free calling program has been implemented for our facilities.

Q: What else is being done to limit inmate exposure to COVID-19?

A: New House Medical Screenings are conducted during the booking process. Inmates possibly affected and/or showing symptoms will be separated and quarantined. The inmate will continuously receive medical attention. Inmates scheduled to be released from custody will be released as normal. If they were housed in a quarantined cellblock, they will be advised of the medical conditions and recommended actions to take after release.

Q: What if I have concerns about a friend or loved one in the jail?

A: Additional staff members have been assigned to field calls on the Inmate Care Concern phone line at [nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-1″], Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Inmate Care Concerns may also be submitted online.” (See Harris County Sherrif’s FAQ’s)

The bottom line is if someone you know or love is newly arrested or stuck in custody, you need to get a lawyer to act on your behalf immediately.

RING MING [nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-1″]

After reading, See also, Stuck, cannot get out of jail in jail, or bail too high during Corona Virus?

[TM1]Link to Page What to Know About Texas Governor’s Order [TM1] GA-13 Relating to Bail Policies