Officials say the release of about 300 Houston-area defendants was ordered when a computer error prevented them from attending the primary court hearing within the time required by state law.
HOUSTON – Nearly 300 Houston-area defendants were ordered released after a computer error prevented them from getting a primary court hearing within the time required by state law, according to officials.
Under Texas law, defendants typically cannot be detained for more than 24 hours in a misdemeanor case and 48 hours in a criminal case. The error prevented the accused from appearing before a magistrate judge for a probable cause during this period.
The public defender’s office filed a motion to release the defendants because they did not appear before a magistrate judge within the required time. Proposals are granted. Most of the released accused have been arrested on non-violent charges.
In a letter to local law enforcement, the district attorney’s office said officers would have to re-file charges and some individuals may need to be re-arrested. It is not clear how many cases need to be refilled.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the breach occurred after a necessary system update, and Rick Noriga of Harris County Universal Services, the organization that manages the county’s technical problems, described the breach as “minimal.”
Officials say the system has crashed for the fifth time since August.
“The safety of the public, the security of our criminal justice system and the effectiveness of our courts demand that County Universal Services provide the resources to fix this and ensure it never happens again,” said Dan Schiller, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.