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Houston Criminal Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 2.32

Houston Criminal Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 2.32. The Importance of Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations in Houston: A Guide for Criminal Defendants


Houston Criminal Attorney

Introduction:

When you find yourself facing criminal charges in Houston, one of the key elements that can significantly impact your case is the electronic recording of custodial interrogations. This practice is governed by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 2.32, and it plays a crucial role in ensuring that the rights of individuals accused of criminal offenses are protected. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of electronic recording in custodial interrogations and how it can be beneficial to both criminal defendants and Houston criminal attorneys.


What is Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations?

Before we delve into the significance of electronic recording, let's clarify what it entails according to Texas law. Electronic recording, as defined in Article 2.32(a), refers to either an audiovisual electronic recording or an audio recording, provided that the recording is authentic, accurate, and unaltered.

Key Definitions:

  1. Law Enforcement Agency: This term encompasses agencies at the state, county, municipal, or other political subdivision levels that employ peace officers conducting custodial interrogations.

  2. Place of Detention: This refers to locations like police stations or other law enforcement buildings where individuals are detained in connection with suspected criminal violations.

The Mandate for Electronic Recording:

Article 2.32(b) mandates that unless good cause exists that makes electronic recording infeasible, law enforcement agencies must make a complete and contemporaneous electronic recording of any custodial interrogation that occurs in a place of detention involving individuals suspected of committing specific criminal offenses. These offenses include murder, capital murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other serious crimes listed in the code.


Completeness of Recording:

For a custodial interrogation to be considered fully recorded, it must commence when the person being interrogated enters the place of detention or receives a warning as described in Article 38.22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The recording must continue until the interrogation concludes.


Good Cause Exceptions:

Article 2.32(d) outlines exceptions where electronic recording may be considered infeasible. These include situations where the accused refuses to cooperate, statements made spontaneously outside of interrogation, equipment malfunctions, public safety concerns, or when the peace officer reasonably believes the interrogation doesn't pertain to an applicable offense.


Privacy and Public Disclosure:

One crucial aspect of electronic recording is the privacy and confidentiality of these recordings. Article 2.32(e) specifies that recordings made in compliance with this law are exempt from public disclosure, providing an additional layer of protection for individuals undergoing custodial interrogations.


The Role of a Houston Criminal Attorney:

For anyone accused of a criminal offense in Houston, having a skilled criminal defense attorney is essential. A Houston criminal attorney can play a vital role in ensuring that custodial interrogations are conducted in accordance with the law, including electronic recording requirements. They can review the evidence, verify the completeness of recordings, and challenge any violations of the accused's rights during interrogations.


Art. 2.32. ELECTRONIC RECORDING OF CUSTODIAL INTERROGATIONS. (a) In this article: (1) "Electronic recording" means an audiovisual electronic recording, or an audio recording if an audiovisual electronic recording is unavailable, that is authentic, accurate, and unaltered. (2) "Law enforcement agency" means an agency of the state, or of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state, that employs peace officers who, in the routine performance of the officers' duties, conduct custodial interrogations of persons suspected of committing criminal offenses. (3) "Place of detention" means a police station or other building that is a place of operation for a law enforcement agency, including a municipal police department or county sheriff's department, and is owned or operated by the law enforcement agency for the purpose of detaining persons in connection with the suspected violation of a penal law. The term does not include a courthouse. (b) Unless good cause exists that makes electronic recording infeasible, a law enforcement agency shall make a complete and contemporaneous electronic recording of any custodial interrogation that occurs in a place of detention and is of a person suspected of committing or charged with the commission of an offense under: (1) Section 19.02, Penal Code (murder); (2) Section 19.03, Penal Code (capital murder); (3) Section 20.03, Penal Code (kidnapping); (4) Section 20.04, Penal Code (aggravated kidnapping); (5) Section 20A.02, Penal Code (trafficking of persons); (6) Section 20A.03, Penal Code (continuous trafficking of persons (7) Section 21.02, Penal Code (continuous sexual abuse of young child or disabled individual); (8) Section 21.11, Penal Code (indecency with a child); (9) Section 21.12, Penal Code (improper relationship between educator and student); (10) Section 22.011, Penal Code (sexual assault); (11) Section 22.021, Penal Code (aggravated sexual assault); or (12) Section 43.25, Penal Code (sexual performance by a child). (c) For purposes of Subsection (b), an electronic recording of a custodial interrogation is complete only if the recording: (1) begins at or before the time the person being interrogated enters the area of the place of detention in which the custodial interrogation will take place or receives a warning described by Section 2(a), Article 38.22, whichever is earlier; and (2) continues until the time the interrogation ceases. (d) For purposes of Subsection (b), good cause that makes electronic recording infeasible includes the following: (1) the person being interrogated refused to respond or cooperate in a custodial interrogation at which an electronic recording was being made, provided that: (A) a contemporaneous recording of the refusal was made; or (B) the peace officer or agent of the law enforcement agency conducting the interrogation attempted, in good faith, to record the person's refusal but the person was unwilling to have the refusal recorded, and the peace officer or agent contemporaneously, in writing, documented the refusal; (2) the statement was not made as the result of a custodial interrogation, including a statement that was made spontaneously by the accused and not in response to a question by a peace officer; (3) the peace officer or agent of the law enforcement agency conducting the interrogation attempted, in good faith, to record the interrogation but the recording equipment did not function, the officer or agent inadvertently operated the equipment incorrectly, or the equipment malfunctioned or stopped operating without the knowledge of the officer or agent; (4) exigent public safety concerns prevented or rendered infeasible the making of an electronic recording of the statement; or (5) the peace officer or agent of the law enforcement agency conducting the interrogation reasonably believed at the time the interrogation commenced that the person being interrogated was not taken into custody for or being interrogated concerning the commission of an offense listed in Subsection (b). (e) A recording of a custodial interrogation that complies with this article is exempt from public disclosure as provided by Section 552.108, Government Code. Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 686 (H.B. 34), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017. Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1122 (S.B. 1253), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017. Amended by: Acts 2021, 87th Leg., R.S., Ch. 221 (H.B. 375), Sec. 2.06, eff. September 1, 2021. Text of article as added by Acts 2021, 87th Leg., R.S., Ch. 534 (S.B. 69), Sec. 1 For text of article as added by Acts 2021, 87th Leg., R.S., Ch. 979 (S.B. 2212), Sec. 1, see other Art. 2.33. For text of article as added by Acts 2021, 87th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1011 (H.B. 1758), Sec. 1, see other Art. 2.33.

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