Is Crime Increasing in Texas?
Most Common Crimes in Texas
Although the crime rates in Texas are higher than the national average, the state has the lowest crime rate in the West South-Central region. Like many places throughout the U.S., Texas saw slight increases in both violent and property crime in the year 2021. The violent crime rate in Texas saw a 2% increase from 4.1 to 4.2 incidents per 1000 people. The property crime rate rose by nearly 1% from 23.7 to 23.9 per 1000 people. There have also been increases in homicide in the Houston area in particular. According to the Houston Police Department, there were 199 homicides within the city limits through June of 2021. At the same time in 2020, there were 148 homicides, which means there was a 35% increase.
Overall, however, the most common crimes committed in Texas are drug crimes and property crimes. Drug use is a problem throughout the U.S. as a whole, but it is especially prevalent in the state of Texas. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, drug arrests in Texas make up the most common arrests in the state. Depending on the specifics of the case, those who are arrested for drug crimes in Texas can face a sentence of up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for severe cases. The top ten drugs seized in Texas include the following:
Property crimes are the second most common crime in Texas. A property crime is a crime in which the victim’s property is stolen or destroyed without the use or threat of force against the victim. The most common property crimes in Texas include the following:
Larceny-theft is the unlawful taking of another individual’s property. 72.4% of the property crimes committed in 2018 were theft charges. The reported number of larceny thefts committed in Texas in 2017 was 518,414, which makes it the largest crime category of the Index Crimes. Common examples of larceny-theft are stealing bicycles, theft of motor vehicle parts and accessories, shoplifting, pocket-picking, or the stealing of any property or article not taken by force and violence or by fraud.
At first glance, you might think that burglary and theft are the same. Although they are both property crimes, they are a bit different in nature. The main difference between burglary and larceny-theft is that burglary involves unlawfully entering a building or structure, while larceny does not. It is possible to commit larceny while committing burglary, but it is impossible to commit larceny without entering another individual’s property. 17.3% of the total property crimes committed in 2018 were considered burglary charges.
- Motor vehicle theft
In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, motor vehicle theft is defined as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. The program also defines motor vehicles as self-propelled vehicles that run on land surfaces rather than rails. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 65,000 cars and trucks are stolen and almost 200,000 are burglarized each year.
About the Criminal Justice Process in Texas
The Texas court style system consists of a Supreme Court. This is the highest state appellate court for civil matters. It also consists of a Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest state appellate court for criminal matters. The system consists of 14 Courts of Appeals, which have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases and four levels of trial courts. Each court in the Texas trial court system handles different categories of cases, like the district courts, county courts, county courts of law, probate courts, justice courts, and municipal courts.
No matter what type of court might be handling your case, it is essential to be familiar with what to expect from the system and to understand how a criminal defense attorney can help. If you are facing any kind of criminal charge in Texas, you will likely have your first court appearance within 48 hours of your arrest. This is the time when the judge will set bail based on the criminal charges.
Once the documents have been filed, you will have an arraignment, which can happen in county court for misdemeanors or district court for felonies. This is when the judge will ask for a plea of guilty or not guilty, but your criminal defense attorney will help determine the best route and do most of the talking. Typically, a defendant will plead “not guilty” at an arraignment, even if they expect to plead guilty eventually.
After the arraignment, there will be a variety of pre-trial conferences and hearings. Your criminal defense lawyers will be evaluating the evidence and investigating to make sure we are presenting your case in the best light.
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas or are simply curious about the state of crime and safety in the Lone Star State, call The Clark Law Firm at (817) 435-4970 or contact us online.