Criminal JusticeElections 2022IssuesLocal NewsDistrict Attorney Creuzot Ends Lenient Dallas County Policy on Theft Prosecutions

Creuzot said the rule has been “misrepresented and politicized” and that business closures have been falsely ascribed to the policy.
November 21, 2022
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot announced that his office is “rescinding” a policy of declining to prosecute individuals who commit thefts of items worth between $100 and $750 for reasons other than “economic gain.”

In a news release on Monday, Creuzot criticized opponents of the policy, calling it “false” that the policy has led to business closures and other negative consequences.

“This policy targets a very narrow class of offense and was instituted in an effort to decriminalize poverty, but instead, the policy has been misrepresented and politicized, and those who have done that have created a sense of mistrust about this office,” Creuzot said.

The district attorney said that he had promised on the campaign trail he would “revisit” the policy if he won the election.

“Through data analysis and conversations with community organizations, retailers, and independent loss prevention specialists, I found the policy had zero effect on crime in the county — positive or negative,” Creuzot said.

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“I have come to the understanding that this policy is more aspirational than realistic and rather than helping those in need, I have watched that population, and primarily people of color, be blamed for a rise in crime.”

However, Creuzot is not relinquishing his authority to decide which crimes to prosecute.

“My assistants and I will use our discretion to prosecute those who deserve it and utilize our strengthened Pre-Trial Intervention programs and other community resources to get vulnerable populations the help they need,” Creuzot said.

He stated that thefts of items worth less than $100 are prosecuted in municipal court.

Faith Johnson, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for district attorney, made the theft policy a focal point of her campaign. Johnson was Dallas County’s district attorney from 2017 to 2019; Gov. Greg Abbott appointed her to succeed former District Attorney Susan Hawk after Hawk’s resignation.

Creuzot defeated Johnson on Election Day with 59 percent of the vote. He originally took office as district attorney after beating Johnson in the 2018 general election.

In Dallas County, criminal trespass is only prosecuted when there is a “physical intrusion into property.” Creuzot’s office also has a practice of declining to prosecute people for first-time possession of marijuana if the quantity in question is less than two ounces. The district attorney did not mention either of those policies in Monday’s announcement.

The use of prosecutorial discretion to implement a sweeping policy change is controversial. Creuzot is also among the district attorneys who have pledged to use prosecutorial discretion to decline to file charges against those in violation of the state’s laws against abortion.

The Obama administration also famously used prosecutorial discretion to stop placing many illegal immigrants in deportation proceedings if they arrived as children and met other requirements. Though it has never been enacted by Congress, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remained in place for years before new applications were ultimately blocked by a federal judge in 2021.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."