Texas S.B. 1253: Interrogations and Interviews Law
According to a report by the National Registry of Exonerations, approximately 60 percent of wrongful convictions over the last 25 years were the result of misconduct by law enforcement officers and prosecutors. The study also cited coerced confessions during police interrogations as a leading cause of wrongful convictions. In the state of Texas, false convictions have contributed to nine wrongful convictions. Texas’ new Interrogations and Interviews Law – S.B. 1253 – is designed to address this issue.
About Texas S.B. 1253
Texas S.B. 1253 — also known as the Interrogations and Interviews Law – was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in June of 2017 and became effective on September 1, 2017. The legislation amends existing Texas law regarding the electronic recording and admissibility of certain custodial interrogations, a situation in which the suspect is deprived of his or her freedom or action while being questioned.
Law creates a uniform standard
Although the United States Department of Justice requires all federal law enforcement agencies to record interrogations, prior to implementation of the new Interrogations and Interviews Law, the state of Texas lacked any uniform standards regarding the recording of custodial interrogations. As a result, the quality of evidence collected through recorded interrogations varied significantly between agencies. S.B. 1253 establishes statewide procedures for law enforcement agencies concerning recording custodial interrogations. This new legislation requires that law enforcement use the electronic recording of custodial interrogations in cases of all serious and violent felony offenses.
Law is designed to curb wrongful convictions
The Interrogations and Interviews Law is designed to improve the quality of investigations to curb the incidence of wrongful convictions. The law requires that:
- Recordings begin when the suspect enters the interrogation area or when they are informed of their rights
- Recordings end when the custodial interrogation is completed
- Prosecutors provide a copy of the interrogation recording to the defendant no more than 30 days prior to the start of a trial
The law establishes uniform standards regarding what constitutes a complete custodial recording and identifies conditions where recording an interrogation is not feasible.
Charged with a felony? Our Southlake criminal attorneys vigorously protect your rights under the law
A felony charge is a serious offense. Penalties are stiff and can have long-term consequences for you and your family. At the Southlake Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, our criminal defense lawyers vigorously protect the rights of all individuals accused of a crime. Experienced and knowledgeable in Texas criminal law, we aggressively fight to defend the charges against you, skillfully navigating the complexities of the criminal justice system. To meet with a member of our criminal defense team to discuss your situation and the best course of action in your case, contact our office at 817-332-7703 or contact us online.