Texas legislators, prosecutors, and others are backing a bill that would change the law on how warrants are issued in parts of Texas. Under current law, there is are restrictions on who can issue a warrant. The law requires that a judge, or justice of the peace with a law degree, issue warrants to draw blood from a DWI suspect. But it is not that way in all counties.
In some counties where the population is small enough, a justice of the peace without a law degree is authorized to issue DWI search warrants. It is this discrepancy that the bill would seek to fix. The backers of the bill want all counties to have the right to authorize their justices of the peace to issue search warrants.
The Warrant Requirement
While this sounds like lawmakers trying to overcome a technicality, the warrant requirement of the U.S. Constitution is anything but a technicality. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, each of us is granted the right to be secure and free from unreasonable government inspections and seizures. If the government wants to search or seize someone or something, they must first obtain a warrant to do so.
The Fourth Amendment is the bedrock of the liberties we enjoy in this country. Without it, none of us could expect to be free from the whims of a large government with its own interests. With it we are each of protected from intrusions, convictions, and loss of life and property. So it is appropriate that only those familiar with the law are allowed to issue a warrant to take away such an important right.
Judges Issue Warrants
Under Texas law, and in most other states, a judge is the person who issues a warrant to intrude on the life of a private citizen by performing a search or making an arrest. Judges, in almost all cases, are attorneys with the training and experienced needed to know whether a warrant should be issued in a given case. Judges are used because they are supposed to be neutral arbiters deciding what the law means.
If this law is passed and implemented, it puts the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment in jeopardy. Before a warrant can be issued there are technical requirements that must be applied and understood. For example, a judge is not authorized to issue a warrant unless there is probable cause that a crime was committed. Probable cause is a legal and technical term that is not easily understood by those without a legal background.
Of course there are cases and places in which a judge or justice of the peace does not have a legal education, and must issue warrants, but that is not the standard we should be advocating. After all, this affects all of our rights, and not just those accused of DWI. That is why this bill may not be a good idea.
If you are suspected or charged of committing a DWI, you need the right legal team protecting your rights. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm, we have dedicated our practice to defending those accused of DWI, and we look forward to helping you, as well. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Mattia Rifhetti)