Texas Tech Law Review
When article 14.03(a)(1) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure first appeared in Texas law, landmark decisions like Terry v. Ohio and Miranda v. Arizona were more than a century in the future. Nevertheless, a current exception to Texas's arrest warrant requirement can be traced directly to a virtually identical statute from those pre-Civil War days.
It is a small wonder that today's courts find this statute confusing; and confusion, whether advertent or inadvertent, invites result-oriented, illogical, or unpersuasive judicial decisions. Courts' attempts to make sense of article 14.03(a)(1) arguably have failed in each of these ways over the statute's long life.
First, a considerable legal superstructure is built on the premise that arrests in Texas must be by warrant, unless a statutory exception exists. So long as the Legislature and courts insist on warrants or some narrowly-defined alternative, provisions of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure like article 14.03(a)(1) will continue to protect Texas citizens. Not only is the warrant exception scheme an example of sound criminal justice policy, but it also symbolizes the strength of Texas's commitment to prior judicial approval of arrests. Second, in each case, the appellate court must explain carefully and thoroughly which facts justify departure from the warrant procedure.
When this degree of analysis becomes commonplace, decisions will become more consistent and predictable. The law of 1856 will acquire an integrity and longevity that will insure its continued vitality well into the next millennium.
Gerald S. Reamey, Arrests in Texas’s “Suspicious Places”: A Rule in Search of Reason, 31 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 931 (2000).