New Law to Improve Texas’ Victims Notification System

3 years 11 months 3 weeks ago Monday, June 26 2017 Jun 26, 2017 June 26, 2017 9:14 PM June 26, 2017 in News

WESLACO – New legislation will help victim of felonies get more information about their offender by strengthening the statewide Victim Notification System (VNS).

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Victim Services Division is adding 3G offenses, which include murder, capital murder and indecency with a child to the database. This will also include offenses with the use of a deadly weapon.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to a Rio Grande Valley woman who explained how important it can be to use this tool.

We’re hiding her identity for her safety. We’ll call her Mary. She’s a victim of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by her ex-husband.

Mary is a victim of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by her ex-husband.

“He then came home very upset. He was claiming that I was hiding something of his. I told him I didn’t. We argued back and forth and that led him to attack me with a knife and stabbed my jaw. He then yelled at me and swung at me again,” she said.

Mary sustained several injuries to her hands, knees and a stab wound to her shoulder. She said they’re scars that act as a reminder of her survival.

“I woke up three or four hours after that. I woke up hurting, but I went back to sleep. When I fully woke up, I was hurting and throwing up. I saw that I had cuts and scrapes on my body, face and hands,” she recalled.

Mary pressed charges on her ex-husband and he was sentenced to three years in jail.  

“In court they told me that if he behaved, they could cut his sentence. So, I’m not very sure about what’s happening with him. But I would like to know,” she said.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Victim Notification System will now be able to help Mary get the information she needs.

The state legislature passed a law that allows victims of these crimes to be notified if the offender repeats a criminal act.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the TDCJ about the details of the new feature. TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark sent us the following statement, which reads in part:

HB 104 requires a district attorney to notify TDCJ when a person previously convicted of a 3G offense or a new offense with a deadly weapon finding. TDCJ would then notify registered victims of the new incident.”

Mary said she’ll sign up for the program.

“I think it would be god to know how his legal process is going,” she said. “Yes, because I don’t want to put my life at risk again.”

The new law will go into effect September 1.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez sent us the following statement in regards to the advances:

“As the district attorney, we would be responsible to notify Texas Department of Criminal Justice within 10 days of the new offense that a defendant has been charged, who previously, was convicted.”

Rodriguez added victims should not be cutoff once a defendant is convicted of a crime, especially felonies. 

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