EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso County Public Defender’s office and Jail Magistrate dismissed nearly 100 cases in court hearings on Monday.

Chief Public Defender Kelly Childress-Diaz confirmed her office has filed motion to dismiss 435 cases, including the 98 that were already dismissed on Monday.

The cases in question, or how Childress-Diaz explained, accusations, were not actually made into cases yet because the District Attorney’s office has not yet indicted or made charges.

Under Texas Statute Code of Criminal Procedure 32.01 the defendant who has been detained under custody or held to bail under accusations but has not been indicted and called for prosecution in the window of 180 days is to be discharged from custody and bail conditions.

Childress-Diaz explained the cases her office has requested to be dismissed are 300 to 400 days past the arrest date without an indictment. One of them, she said, is almost a thousand days past the arrest date.

When it comes to criminal accusations, a person is arrested and held under bond, if set by judge. Childress-Diaz explained, during that time the DA is supposed to make the decision to press charges within those 180 days.

KTSM received a statement from the DA’s office stating: “The actions taken by the Public Defender’s Office, in conjunction with the Jail Magistrate Humberto Acosta, are unprecedented but not unique, as the same actions are being taken by defense attorneys across the State of Texas as District Attorney Offices both throughout the State and across the nation face personnel shortages and covid backlog issues. “

DA’s office said that another reason for the backlog of cases is the utilization of the DIMS process – a software used for managing court cases concerning drug offenses.

According to the statement, DIMS agreement was being negotiated from July of 2021 up until its utilization in January of 2022, saying that most of the dismissed cases were the ones that were not presented to the DA’s office through DIMS process in that period.

“The renewal of the DIMS agreement has led to an increase in the number of cases filed this year,” DA’s office stated.

They also explained, even though the accusations have been dismissed the DA’s office still can file charges under the statute of limitations which, for most cases, is from two to 10 years.

Childress-Diaz said majority of the dismissals are misdemeanors and several are more serious cases.

Some of the more serious cases include injury to a child, burglaries to a vehicle and residence, family violence misdemeanors ,felony drug possession and tampering with evidence.

However, despite the statute of limitations, Childress-Diaz said it is possible that the case might get dropped even if the indictment does eventually happen, explaining that the judges take into consideration if the prosecutor acted diligently to bring the defendant to trial.

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