The Dallas Morning News reported in March that because of coronavirus concerns, the Collin County sheriff was asking police not to bring petty criminals to jail. Instead of arresting people, he asked police to try citing and releasing those who commit some non-violent crimes.
Skinner specifically pointed to Class C misdemeanors, low-level crimes that include petty theft, simple assault, possession of drug paraphernalia, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and trespassing on public property. The Morning News reported that the Melissa Police Department always cites and releases with Class C misdemeanors, although some charges like public intoxication may require an arrest.
The letter mainly applied to smaller departments that depend on the county jail for holding arrestees. The town of Blue Ridge, for example, does not have its own police force and relies on Collin County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Plano and Frisco have their own city jails and would not normally take people with Class C misdemeanor charges to the county jail. About 50 people enter the county jail every day.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office announced it would suspend all in-person jail visitations in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The suspension does not apply to visits by legal counsel and video visitation will be offered free of charge.
Dallas County already does not accept Class C misdemeanors to the jail who do not also have higher-level charges against them. Individuals also will not be allowed to turn themselves in at the Dallas County Jail lobby.
KDFW-TV reported on December 2, 2020 that Collin County detention officer Joseph Quillen Junior died from complications of COVID-19. The Navy veteran had worked for the county for 19 years.
That same night, Denton County Precinct 2 Chief Deputy Constable M. Wayne Rhodes died after serving the county for 25 years. He started in the sheriff’s office in 1995 and became a constable three years later.
On December 14, 2020, the Allen American reported that the Collin County Sheriff’s Office announced that a county detention facility inmate had died after being transported to a local hospital. A press release stated that Collin County Detention Facility staff transported a 47-year-old woman to a McKinney hospital in response to a request from Wellpath, the detention center’s contract medical provider.
The Frisco Police Department had arrested the woman on December 5 for driving while intoxicated (DWI). She arrived at the Collin County Detention Facility on December 7 and was being held on a $5,000 bond that was set by the city of Frisco municipal magistrate.
December 13, 2020, WFAA-TV joint investigation with The Marshall Project exposed how COVID-19 was allowed to spread due to a lackluster response by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The story detailed five prisoners who had died from COVID-19 in Collin County.
Baldemar Deleon, Jr., 70, died June 25, 2020, at a local hospital in Jacksonville. Deleon tested positive for COVID-19 on June 5 and was transported from the unit the next day. Preliminary autopsy results indicate that in addition to a number of pre-existing medical conditions, COVID-19 was a contributing factor in his death. He had served nearly 14 years on a 50-year sentence out of Collin County.
Jimmy Ray Malone, 76, died June 15, 2020, at Hospital Galveston. He tested positive for COVID-19 on May 31 and was transported that day to a hospital. There was no autopsy conducted, but medical evidence suggests COVID-19 was a contributing cause of death. He had served one year and seven months of a seven-year sentence out of Collin County. Malone, a Greenville native, worked as a brick mason and retired from the North Texas Water District. He is survived by his wife of 55 years and his children, according to his obituary.
Francis Devassy Puther, 73, died Aug. 18, 2020, at Hospital Galveston. He was transported on July 21. Puther tested positive for COVID-19 on July 22. No autopsy was conducted, but medical evidence suggests that COVID-19 was a contributing factor in his death. He had served one year on a two-year sentence out of Collin County. Puther, of Wylie, was born in India. He is survived by his wife and children, according to his obituary.
John Preston Creech, 72, died July 20, 2020, at Hospital Galveston. He was transported on June 24 from the Stiles Unit in Beaumont and tested positive for COVID-19 that day. There was no autopsy conducted, but medical evidence suggests that COVID-19 was a contributing factor in his death. He had served 11 years on a life sentence out of Collin County.
William Calahan, 72, died May 16, 2020, at a local hospital in Angleton. He was transported on May 15 from the Terrell Unit in Rosharon and tested positive for the virus the next day. Final autopsy results indicate that in addition to a number of pre-existing medical conditions, COVID-19 was a contributing factor in his death. He had served 11 years on a 40-year sentence out of Collin County.
Fighting Criminal Charges in Collin County, Texas
The concerns about COVID-19 should make everybody shudder at the thought of having to spend any time in a local jail or prison. Sentences requiring imprisonment are more common for certain kinds of crimes in Collin County.
Many violent crimes can lead to prison sentences because judges have a duty to remove convicted violent offenders from the streets. Common kinds of violent crimes may include assault, robbery, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, kidnapping, disorderly conduct, manslaughter, or murder.
The Allen American story was particularly noteworthy because the woman involved was being held on a DWI charge. Prison sentences become much more likely with drunk driving crimes when a person is arrested for a third or subsequent DWI.
People can also be more likely to face possible prison time when they have been convicted of a sex offense. Convictions relating to child pornography, child sexual abuse, indecency with a child, or prostitution or solicitation can be more likely to result in possible prison sentences.
The Texas criminal process can be a grueling one for people who are not fully accustomed to court proceedings. Pretrial negotiations can be extremely important in these cases as criminal defense attorneys work to try and avoid the most damaging punishments for alleged offenders.
While COVID-19 is certainly a valid concern that many people will be having for the foreseeable future, there will remain people who must remain imprisoned in the minds of county officials. There will hopefully be some progress in the near future about reduced infection rates in local jails and prisons.
Find a Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you were recently arrested for any alleged crime in Plano or a surrounding area of Collin County, you will want to be quick to get yourself legal representation. Make sure that you take the time to speak to the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy about your legal options.
Our firm can conduct an independent investigation into your arrest and work to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. We will be able to sit down with you and go over your case in greater detail when you call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.