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Houston DWI Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 3.05 Racial Profiling and Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996)



Houston DWI Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 3.05 Racial Profiling and Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996)


In 2001, the Texas Legislature took a significant step toward addressing concerns about racial profiling with the introduction of Article 3.05 in the Code of Criminal Procedure. This law defines racial profiling and sets the groundwork for how law enforcement agencies should approach this sensitive issue.


Definition of Racial Profiling


According to Article 3.05, racial profiling occurs when law enforcement actions are based on an individual's race, ethnicity, or national origin instead of their behavior or information that links them to criminal activity. This definition clarifies that any law enforcement measure should focus on observable conduct or credible evidence of involvement in illegal activities rather than preconceived notions tied to a person's appearance or background.


Legislative Background


The enactment of this law by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001 reflects a commitment to ensuring fair and unbiased policing practices. The legislation aims to promote equality and protect individuals from being unfairly targeted due to their racial or ethnic identity.


Implications for Law Enforcement


For law enforcement agencies, this law underscores the importance of basing actions on concrete evidence and behavior. It encourages officers to rely on factual information rather than stereotypes. This approach not only fosters trust between law enforcement and communities but also enhances the effectiveness of policing by focusing resources on actual criminal behavior.


Moving Forward


The implementation of Article 3.05 serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to create a fair justice system. It highlights the need for continuous education and training for law enforcement officers to ensure they understand and adhere to these principles. By doing so, the state of Texas strives to uphold the rights of all its residents and maintain public confidence in the justice system.


In summary, Article 3.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure is a pivotal piece of legislation aimed at preventing racial profiling. It defines racial profiling clearly, mandates that law enforcement actions be based on behavior and factual information, and represents a broader commitment to justice and equality in Texas.


In DWI cases and other traffic stops courts look at Whren v. United States to determine if officers have violated the 4th amendment and your case can be dismissed.


Summary of Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996)


Facts:


In the case of Whren v. United States, the incident took place on June 10, 1993, in Washington, D.C. Two plainclothes vice-squad officers, who were patrolling a high drug activity area, noticed a Nissan Pathfinder with temporary license plates. The vehicle, driven by Michael A. Whren, was stopped at an intersection for an unusually long time before suddenly turning without signaling and speeding off at an unreasonable speed. The officers decided to pull the vehicle over for these traffic violations.


Upon approaching the vehicle, one of the officers saw Whren holding plastic bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine. The officers immediately arrested Whren and his passenger, James L. Brown. Both were charged with federal drug offenses.


Procedural History:


Whren and Brown moved to suppress the evidence of the drugs, arguing that the traffic stop was a pretext to investigate possible drug offenses, which they claimed violated the Fourth Amendment. They contended that the officers used the traffic violation as an excuse to conduct a search for drugs. The district court denied the motion, and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the decision. The case was then brought before the Supreme Court.


Holding:


The Supreme Court unanimously held that the temporary detention of a motorist upon probable cause to believe that he has violated the traffic laws does not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures, even if a reasonable officer would not have stopped the motorist absent some additional law enforcement objective. The Court stated that as long as the officers have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred, the stop is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of the officers' subjective intentions.


Key Points:


- The Court emphasized that the Fourth Amendment's concern is with the objective reasonableness of a search or seizure, not with the subjective motivations of the officers involved.

- The ruling affirmed that if an officer observes a traffic violation, they are justified in stopping the vehicle, even if their underlying motive is to investigate unrelated criminal activity.

- This decision clarified that pretextual stops, where an officer uses a minor traffic violation as a pretext to investigate more serious crimes, are permissible under the Fourth Amendment as long as there is an objective justification for the stop.


The Whren decision has had a significant impact on law enforcement practices, affirming the legality of pretextual traffic stops and reinforcing the principle that the constitutionality of a stop is based on objective criteria rather than an officer's subjective intent.


 Art. 3.05. RACIAL PROFILING. In this code, "racial profiling" means a law enforcement-initiated action based on an individual's race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than on the individual's behavior or on information identifying the individual as having engaged in criminal activity. Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 947, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2001

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