How much weight does DOJ report carry to file criminal charges? Criminal law attorney weighs in

‘I think it’s been pretty clear who some of the targets are. Whether or not they will actually be charged, that’s a local decision’

UVALDE, Texas – A San Antonio criminal law attorney says the U.S. Department of Justice report carries a lot of weight when considering filing criminal charges in the Robb Elementary shooting.

The Uvalde victims’ and survivors’ families and community members have been asking for people to be held criminally liable for the failure that took place when a mass shooter entered Robb Elementary and killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24, 2022.

On Thursday, after the DOJ released its findings, Jazmin Cazares, whose sister Jackie was killed, and other families wondered if that would be enough for the Uvalde district attorney to press charges.

“This is the most extensive piece that we have about the failures that happened that day. What else does (Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell) possibly need to prosecute or remove the people from power?” Cazares said.

Brent de la Paz is a criminal law attorney with experience as an assistant district attorney. He believes the DOJ report may be what the DA was waiting on to proceed with charges.

“Now you have a layer that you can use in order to bring charges,” de la Paz said.

There is enough evidence to cross-reference key individuals between the DOJ report, the results from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and other independent investigations.

The evidence would need to be presented to a secret grand jury to determine if charges should be brought against any individual.

De la Paz didn’t want to speculate on what type of charges someone could face but said it could range from misdemeanors to felonies.

“I think it’s been pretty clear who some of the targets are. Whether or not they will actually be charged, that’s a local decision,” he said.

De la Paz said the two-year limit to file personal injury and some misdemeanor cases is approaching, but there’s still time for other felony charges. He added that the delivery of the report by the U.S. Attorney General is also a strong indicator of the severity of the case and the charges an individual could face.

He cautions families that it may be a long time before there’s a resolution in the courts to this case if charges are ever filed.

“I think that would bring not closure, but I think that would bring a sense of relief to the families to have [charges] at least brought up,” de la Paz said.


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About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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