‘We’ve had a successful year’: Bexar County District Attorney reflects on year of controversy

2023 was a roller-coaster year for DA Joe Gonzales and his office

SAN ANTONIO – It was a year of ups and downs for the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in 2023.

What started out as a promising start to Joe Gonzales’ second term quickly took a turn.

There was an influx of employees leaving, victim’s families were unhappy with how their cases were handled, the San Antonio Police Department chief of police and the San Antonio Police Union Association criticized the handling of habitual offenders, and there was a backlog of unindicted cases and an increase in dismissed cases.

Time and time again Gonzales wasn’t available for an interview. But right before the holidays the PR firm KGBTexas Communications sent an email saying Gonzales was available to talk about property crimes. KSAT took that as the opportunity to ask about the issues that plagued the DA’s office in 2023.

Gonzales said he believed 2023 was a successful one for his office.

“We’ve had some challenges, but I believe by and large we’ve had a successful year,” Gonzales said. “We’ve had the highest murder conviction rate that we’ve had in the last 12 years. We have an over 90% conviction rate on our felony DWI. We continue to work hard.”

When asked about the increase in dismissals and cases ending in plea deals Gonzales said they are tough but necessary decisions.

“If we roll the dice and lose and that person is acquitted, he walks out the door,” Gonzales said. “So often times, accepting a plea deal of 25 or 30 years on something that may end up with an acquittal is not the optimum outcome, but it’s the best that we can get for that particular case.”

Whether Gonzales believes 25 or 30 years was enough for cases such as murder, he said it all depends on the evidence in the case. He again said that they were tough decisions to make and sometimes unpopular ones.

Gonzales said as far as communications with victim families, he believes they are doing a better job.

“We’re trying to to be as transparent as possible, to be as receptive to anybody that has any questions about the status of their case,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales does think some improvements can be made and hopes the relationship with law enforcement can improve in 2024.

“We hope that we can work better with our law enforcement partners and with our court partners in order to do our job more effectively,” Gonzales said.


KSAT Investigates year in review: From DA discord to Texas prison lockdowns

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

Recommended Videos