UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A Longview woman spent two months in East Texas jails after a case of mistaken identity, officials say.
Jessica Erin Archer, 29, was mistakenly identified as a suspect in a 2015 criminal case in Upshur County, according to the Upshur County Sheriff's Office. She was arrested in August 2017 and released on Nov. 1 when officials were notified of the mixup.
The sheriff's office released a statement on the incident, calling it a "regrettable occurrence" and saying that policies have been put in place to minimize the chances of people being wrongly arrested or accused.
"In 2015, prior to Sheriff Larry Webb taking Office, a Theft of Firearm case involving a suspect of the same first and last name as Archer, lead to a computer search that revealed Jessica Erin Archer's identifiers. The lead investigator at the time, no longer employed with the sheriff's office, used these identifiers when sending the case to the District Attorney's Office asking for charges to be considered against the suspect," the statement reads.
A warrant was then issued for her arrest for theft of a firearm. In June 2015, an Upshur County grand jury returned an indictment on Archer "based on the documents presented them at the time which contained the wrong identifying information," the sheriff's office says.
On Aug. 15, 2017, Archer was arrested by Gregg County deputies as she was reporting to her probation officer regarding an unrelated case.
The Upshur County Sheriff's Office says that Gregg County deputies acted in good faith and matched the identities on the warrant with the person they located. Archer was taken into custody and later transferred to the Upshur County Jail.
On Nov. 1, the sheriff's office was notified of the mixup.
"She was released immediately upon notification to the Sheriff's Office that the identification was in error," the UCSO said in the release.
A formal procedure exists for inmates to file grievances with the sheriff, but the UCSO says Archer did not file one during her incarceration.
"This is a very regrettable occurrence, and procedures must always be in place to minimize mistakes that impact a person's liberty," said Sheriff Larry Webb. "Since taking office I have put in place policies and procedures that, if followed in good faith, will significantly limit any chance of a person being wrongly arrested or accused. This industry is complex and mistakes will unfortunately sometimes happen, but we must first work to prevent them, then act to correct mistakes when they happen, and we have done that here."
Webb cited an example of the department's policy saying, "The Lieutenant of Criminal Investigations, Gary Shirley, currently reviews all cases prepared by investigators before submission to the District Attorney, and has done so since I took office. Lt. Shirley has many years of experience in investigations and I want him to sign off on the case's being properly accurate for prosecution."
The UCSO said it has been notified of possible future litigation regarding the matter.