We are having a problem with illegal dumping of trash in our county. It is very bad in one place that people have apparently been using for years. The commissioner�s court wants the illegal dumping to stop. I am considering having an article published in the local paper to explain to the public what the problem is. Also I am considering sending a letter to people who have been identified by law enforcement as potential problems to warn them of the consequences of illegal dumping. In the article and the letters I would state the any future problems with illegal dumping will be filed on. Also the County may post a sign at the problem area warning of the consequences of illegal dumping. Does anyone have any suggestions on how this matter should be handled?
Also how does your law enforcement store the evidence (the trash) until the matter is completed? Also how does law enforcement determine the amount (weight) of the trash in order to determine the punishment?
No evidence is stored. The trash pile is extensively photographed and measured to determine how many cubic feet are involved, which also determines the level of the charge.
An officer can also narrate a videotape while inspecting the contents of the pile, which may not be admissible with the sound on, but is good to refresh memory and for jury presentation. A close inspection of the pile usually reveals documents with someone's name on it which can be traced back.
I tried sending letters and that did not work. I have filed charges and the word has spread. I have made cleanup a condition of any plea bargain and have been very generous in terms of the case disposition if they clean up the site. That is what I really want, anyway.
Contact HGAC at 713-627-3200 and ask for a copy of their Civil and Criminal Enforcement Manuals. The criminal manual was prepared by Roger Haseman, the eminent environmental guru at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
We are also having the same problem. Contact Denns Dewitt who has been sending demand letters for our county.361-362-3232 He also brought by a book that he can share with you. We haven't indicted anyone yet but I can see that it's coming.
For a while our office had an aggressive environmental prosecution unit, which was even recognized by the Governor's office. But the local anti-government radicals convinced the commissioners to axe the program. Still, during it's short lived tenure I learned a lot about actually prosecuting those illegal dumping cases. I even took one felony case to trial. I've got a couple of suggestions for helping you build a case if you're interested. Give me a call at 972/825-5035.
We periodically get illegal dumping reports from various agencies. When the perpetrator(s) has/have been identified positively, the mess has been miraculously cleaned up and pleas for mercy have been met with clemency. Where the identity of the dumpers has been made only by address labels on discarded mail included in the dump, grand juries have been reluctant to charge.
We did get a burned out shell of a mobile home and several pieces of furniture removed from the sides of roads when letters came out "inviting" the accused to present his side of the story to a grand jury.
I'd advise to let the public know through the media, then scare the dumpers into compliance with grand jury proceedings. If that fails, you may have to charge them.
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