SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The Bexar County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday it will be changing the way it handles criminal trespass cases after people with mental illnesses or were homeless died in the county jail.

Effective Saturday, the prosecutor’s office said it will be rejecting criminal trespass charges in the following situations:

  1. The offense occurs at a non-residential place;
  2. Criminal Trespass is the only charge;
  3. The Defendant appears to be homeless;
  4. The Defendant does not have any violent history and is not currently on probation/deferred for any offense.

The district attorney’s office said any of the above that also shows elements of mental health issues will be taken in so they can be properly evaluated.

The office tried to make clear that the new policies does not stop police officers from making arrests.

“These guidelines should not be interpreted in any way that infringes on law enforcement discretion to ensure public safety or the safety of the individual being arrested,” the office said in a statement.  “The decision to prosecute the case will be made by a prosecutor based on the specific facts of each case, a risk assessment and a mental health evaluation.

“We are continuing to develop our policy regarding this issue and are working with law enforcement and mental health professionals to better serve the community and find workable solutions to this problem,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

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