Every year, there are more than three-quarters of a million arrests made throughout Texas. While this includes violent and serious charges like human trafficking and manslaughter, most arrests are for non-violent crimes. The following are the five most common reasons people get arrested in Texas:
#1. Drug Possession
In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 122,000 people were arrested in Texas for drug possession charges. This includes possession of marijuana, opium/cocaine, synthetic narcotics, and other dangerous substances. Marijuana possession arrests are especially high. While 19 states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, pot possession still accounts for more than half of all Texas drug arrests. 97% of those were for possessing less than 2 ounces of pot. Most people arrested for marijuana possession have no prior drug or criminal offenses.
Every year, about 70,000 Texans are arrested for marijuana possession with most offenders under the age of 30. A drug possession conviction can have long-lasting effects and make it difficult to get a job, rent an apartment, and qualify for student loans and public programs.
#2. Driving While Intoxicated
About 70,000 Texans are arrested every year for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or drunk driving. Someone under 21 can be charged with DWI, even if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent or shows any effects of drug use. Those over 21 are charged with DWI when the person has a BAC at or above the legal limit.
A DWI carries very harsh penalties under Texas law. Even a first-time offense can carry jail time, mandatory license suspension, hefty fines of up to $2,000, annual surcharges of up to $2,000 for three years, community service, DWI education, alcohol intervention programs, car insurance rate hikes, and possible installation of an ignition interlock device.
Theft is a very broad crime that can include many different charges; some felonies and others misdemeanors. The most common theft charges in Texas include:
• Larceny-theft, except vehicles (108,000 per year)
• Fraud (8,000)
• Robbery (6,000)
• Motor vehicle theft (5,000)
• Forgery (5,000
• Stolen property: buying, possessing, or selling (1,000)
More than 133,000 people are arrested across the state every year for some type of theft. Under Texas law, someone can be charged with larceny if they take property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property and it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property stolen.
Under Texas law, assault involves knowingly, recklessly, intentionally inflicting bodily injury on someone else, or threatening someone with imminent harm. Every year, more than 20,000 people are arrested for aggravated assault, which involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon like a gun during the assault. Another 95,000 people are arrested each year for other assaults.
#5. Other Alcohol-Related Charges
If all alcohol-related arrests were added together, they would take over the number one spot for arrests in Texas. Aside from DWI’s, tens of thousands of Texans are arrested every year for other alcohol-related offenses like drunkenness or public intoxication (76,000 per year) and liquor laws (13,000).
Alcohol-related convictions can have life-changing effects. Many critics also claim they do little to improve public health and safety. While many states have public intoxication laws, Texas has among the broadest drunkenness laws that allow police to go almost anywhere and arrest someone for drinking. The Alcoholic Beverage Commission has spent the last decade using a 1993 public intoxication law as a pretext for raiding bars across the Lone Star State to arrest patrons for drunkenness, even those quietly drinking a beer at the bar.
If you have been arrested, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and build your defense. Contact the Law Office of Eric Harron for a free consultation to discuss your case.