Faith Bussey

(817) 905-3149

Support Concurrence on SB 815 (Rodriguez)

The bill does two things related to records retained by magistrates.

It eliminates a conflict in timeframes between the statutory record retention requirement applicable to a record of communication between a magistrate and a person arrested under warrant and the record retention schedule set out under the Local Government Code and prepared by the director and librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

It requires magistrates to retain a record of the reason an officer arrested a person for a fine-only infraction, and requires magistrates to determine whether the arrest served public safety based on that record.

This is a small step forward toward fulfillment of Republican Platform Item #92 related to ending arrest and jail for nonjailable violations. It will improve court data around these arrests, alleviate the harm to drivers who have done nothing more than a minor traffic infraction, while leaving in place the full discretion officers have today to arrest on any charge.

It does not:

  • restrict officers in any way from making any arrests or conducting searches,
  • change statutory punishments for fine-only violations.

Certain fine-only offenses will be dismissed if a magistrate determines, based on the record, that the arrest on the fine-only violation was unnecessary and served no public safety purpose. Booking the offender into jail is already a greater consequence for the violation than the statutory consequence (a modest fine), so in cases where the charge is dismissed the person will not have gone unpunished.

Contact: Faith Bussey, Just Liberty, 817-905-3149