Lara Bracamonte Davila

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Racial disparity in arrests could factor in with criminal defense

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2021 | Criminal Defense

In Dallas, law enforcement is vigilant about investigating alleged criminal activity and making arrests. Some allegations are for low-level crimes or are made in a questionable way. Notably, minorities will frequently say that their arrest was racially motivated. Although law enforcement and prosecutors might deny this, a recent report says that local officers tend to make more misdemeanor arrests of Black people than they do of white people. When formulating a criminal defense, this could be critical.

Low-level or victimless crimes commonly fall into this category

There are approximately 6,000 low-level arrests in Dallas on an annual basis. The charges are generally those in which no one was harmed, nor was there property stolen or damaged. Public intoxication is the most frequent reason for these arrests with an overrepresentation of Black people. Other justifications for arrests of Black people are criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and minor drug charges.

When assessing the cases, it is often found that an example of criminal trespass could be a homeless individual who simply enters a location where they are legally not allowed to be. Regarding drug charges, researchers found that 85% involve people who possessed a small amount of marijuana that was clearly not for sale.

Although Black people comprise only around 25% of the population of the area, they make up around half of the arrests in general and 57% of marijuana arrests. They make up 72% of criminal trespass cases and more than 50% of disorderly conduct arrests. Of the more than 17,200 low-level arrests between 2017 and 2020, nearly all resulted in a person being taken into custody. Only 334 were not. Black people accounted for 44% of incidents of being taken into custody. Hispanics were also arrested at a far greater frequency than white people. The report urges finding alternatives to making these arrests.

Considering civil rights violations could help with a defense

After an arrest, there might be a belief that the person charged was targeted due to racial profiling. This is not a small issue and when there is a low-level charge or even a more serious accusation, it is imperative to think about whether the officer might have violated the person’s civil rights. This is true with any of the above-listed low-level crimes or something more serious like weapons charges, driving under the influence, theft or violence. Consulting with a firm that is experienced in all areas of criminal defense and civil rights may be essential to a positive outcome.