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No significant fiscal implication to the State or local government is anticipated.
HB 3184 would amend the statutes to reflect a substantially different way to handle offenses against property within Texas. This bill would create a new program that would be a “Pretrial Victim-Offender Mediation Program”. This program would only be available through the consent of the victim and would include an apology by the defendant. This program would require the defendant to pay restitution to the victim and/or perform community service. This program may also require testing, counseling, and treatment of any relevant issues that may have been related to the defendant’s arrest. A reasonable fee not to exceed $500 may be collected from the defendant. There is also a $15 fee to collect court costs.
If an agreement isn’t reached or the defendant fails to fulfill the terms, the defendant’s case is returned to docket. However, if the defendant successfully completes the mediation agreement, the court would dismiss the criminal action against the defendant. The court would enter an order of nondisclosure, as if the defendant had received a discharge and dismissal after a year of good behavior from the date the defendant successfully completed a mediation agreement.
This program can also be implemented and administered by juvenile boards. There would be a number of legislative and local reviews that could be authorized to evaluate this new program.
HB 3184 would be a substantial and innovative reform to our criminal justice system. This bill would enhance property rights, by allowing offenses against property to be handled through mediation rather than the courts. This would allow the defendant to directly pay the victim rather than the public being forced to carry the burden of paying for the defendant’s prison sentence. This bill would encourage personal responsibility and individual liberty by placing government control on a lower level and putting the victim’s rights on the forefront. This would allow the victim to be the priority and place the power into their hands onto what would be the most appropriate restitution. Finally, this addresses a legitimate role of government and aligns with our limited government principle by possibly reducing the state financial liability for confining defendants and placing the liability back into the hands of the defendant. We support HB 3184 as promoting the principles of liberty in Texas.