Summary of Some of the Many 2011 New Texas Criminal Laws

Posted By Tim Powers || 24-Aug-2011

ESCAPE FROM CUSTODY

SB 844 – Under the law prior to the passage of SB 844 a loophole existed in the Texas Penal Code. Under the Penal Code, an individual commits an offense if that individual were to evade a peace officer attempting to place them under arrest or who escapes from custody after they have been arrested. Additionally, under the Penal Code, a peace officer has the ability to lawfully detain a person based on a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed an offense. However, if the person who is lawfully detained escapes, there is little legal basis for charging that person with an offense of escape from custody or evading if the escape occurs outside the peace officers sight. SB 844 makes it an offense for an individual to escape while they are being lawfully detained.

RADAR JAMMING DEVICES

HB 1116 – Over time numerous devices have been created to help prevent speeders from being ticketed. The most common device that we are all accustom to is the radar detector which is designed to pick up radar signals out of the air. These radar detectors have become less effective, as law enforcement have become familiarized with how they work. This has spawned the usage of Lidar/radar jamming devices. Unlike traditional radar detectors, the jamming devices emit a radio frequency signal that interferes with the operation of police Lidar/radar by saturating its receiver with noise or false information. These devices have the potential to damage police equipment, as well as prevent the police from not only measuring the speed of the vehicle equipped with the jamming device but also those vehicles around it. HB 1116 makes it illegal to have a radar jamming device in your vehicle.

POSSESSION OF SPIKES

SB 1416 – Law enforcement officials in South Texas have been tasked with overcoming a device now being utilized by fleeing suspects. Tire deflation devices are often used by law enforcement officers to end a police chase. Recently individuals being pursued by law enforcement officers have begun throwing down homemade tire deflation devices intended to take out the police cars tires. These devices pose a danger to not only law enforcement but also the general public. With the passage of SB 1416, these devices are now illegal to possess, manufacture, transport, repair or sell.

FAIL TO APPEAR MAY CAUSE YOU INABILITY TO REGISTER YOUR VEHICLE
SB 1386 – Effective 9/1/11.
Authorizes county tax assessor-collector to refuse to register vehicle owned by person who has failed to appear for criminal proceeding in county. Gives
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) the same right of refusal. Sets amount of discretionary fee charged for failing to pay fine and court costs by due date or
for failure to appear at $20. The $20 fee may only be assessed if county has contract to provide certain information to DMV. See §§ 502.185, 702.003,
Transp. Code. See also Justices of the Peace and Municipal Judges

BIGAMY
HB 253 – Effective 9/1/11.
Lengthens the statute of limitations for the offense of bigamy to ten years from the date of commission, or ten years from the victim’s 18th birthday, if the victim the defendant purports to marry is younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense. In a petition by the Department of Family and Protective Services
to remove an alleged perpetrator from the home, adds an additional requirement that the Department state that the parent continuing to reside in the home will
monitor the residence and report any attempt by the alleged perpetrator to enter the residence. Elevates the failure to comply with the duties surrounding
filing a birth certificate or birth record from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. For the offense of bigamy, modifies the existing definition of
what constitutes a first degree felony by raising the age of the victim to “16 years or younger;” the existing law was “younger than 16.” See Art. 12.01 Code Crim. Proc., § 262.1015(b) Fam. Code, § 195.004 Health & Safety Code, § 25.01(e) Penal Code

DEFERRED ADJUDICATION FOR MURDER
HB 371 – Effective 9/1/11.
Prohibits deferred adjudication for most defendants convicted of murder. See Art. 42.12, Sec. 5(d), Code of Crim. Proc.

CONVICTED-NO CONTACT WITH VICTIMS
HB 1028 – Effective 9/1/11. Authorizes a convicting court to prohibit a defendant whose sentence includes confinement from contacting the victim or a member of the victim’s family during the confinement. Provides that violation of the court’s order may result in loss of good conduct time and may be considered by a parole
panel. See Arts. 42.24, 42.032, Code of Crim. Proc.; §§ 498.0042, 508.1531, Gov’t Code.

CLASS A MISDEMEANOR FOR BLOOD ALCOHOL OVER .15
HB 1199 – Effective 9/1/11.
Makes a DWI a Class A misdemeanor instead of a Class B misdemeanor if the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration level is 0.15 or higher. See § 49.04, Penal Code

EARN HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA = TIME CREDIT IN JAIL
HB 1205 – Effective 9/1/11.
Gives certain defendants “time credits” for completing certain conditions of community supervision in state jail felony and third degree felony cases. Relevant conditions of community supervision include earning a high school diploma, completing a parenting class, and paying court costs and fines. See Art. 42.12, Sec. 20A, Code of Crim. Proc

IMPERSONATING SOMEONE ELSE ONLINE

HB 1666 – Effective 09/01/11.
Provides a criminal sanction for impersonating another in an email or on a web page, social network or other internet website, with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten any person.

FIRST OFFENDER PROSTITUTION PROGRAM
HB 1994 – Effective 6/17/11.
Creates first offender prostitution program for defendants charged with offenses in which defendant offered or agreed to hire a person to engage in sexual conduct. Requires court, if program is defendant successfully completes program and certain criteria are met, to enter order of nondisclosure as if the defendant had received a discharge and dismissal under Section 5(c), Article 42.12, Code of Criminal Procedure. See Chapter 169, Health and Safety Code
and § 103,0291, Gov’t Code.

CONDITION OF PAROLE-EXIT THE COUNTRY
HB 2734 – Effective 09/01/11.
Mandates a parole panel enter conditions of mandatory supervision on “illegal criminal aliens” that they leave the United States as soon as possible
after release and not unlawfully

PAROLE ADMINISTRATIVE VIOLATION-NO BLUE WARRANT
HB 2735 – Effective 9/01/11.
Requires a summons to appear rather than a warrant be issued for a person on parole or mandatory supervision release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for an individual charged only with committing an administrative violation alleged to have been committed after the third anniversary of the date the individual was released on parole or mandatory supervision. There are exceptions for individuals who are required to register under Art. 62, is on a form of intensive supervision, is an absconder or a threat to public safety. See §508.251, Gov’t Code

STALKING
SB 82 – Effective 9/1/11.
Adds an individual with whom a victim has a dating relationship to the categories of persons covered by the stalking statute; adds stalking convictions in other states or under federal law to the offenses which can raise the level of a current offense. Authorizes the offense of stalking to be prosecuted in any county in which an element of the offense occurred; Ensures stalking victims are permitted to give testimony in court concerning their relationship with an alleged perpetrator. See Arts. 13.36, 38.46, Code of Crim. Proc.; § 42.072, Penal Code.

CERTAIN SEX OFFENSES EXEMPT FROM REGISTRATION
SB 198 – Effective 9/1/11.
Provides that certain persons convicted of certain sexual offenses are exempted from registering as a sex offender s. Permits certain young persons who
have been convicted or placed on community supervision for certain offense involving underage victims to petition the court for release from registration requirements. See Arts. 42.017, 42.12 (g), 62.301, 62.402, Code of Crim. Proc.

NEW TRIAL MOTION
SB 519 – Effective 9/1/11.
Expands time to make motion for new trial in criminal case in justice and municipal court from one day to five days. See Art. 45.037, Code of Crim. Proc. See also Justices of the Peace and Municipal Judges.

FAILURE TO ATTEND SCHOOL
SB 1489 – Effective 9/1/11.
Restricts individuals who can be convicted of failure to attend school to persons 12 or older and younger than 18. Provides for expunctions of failure-toattend-school offenses to be obtained in a wider variety of circumstances. Authorizes courts to dismiss failure-to-attend-school charges in certain circumstances. See Arts. 45.054, 45.055, Code of Crim. Proc.; § 25.094, Educ. Code; § 51.03, Fam. Code. See also Justices of the Peace and Municipal Judges

BODILY INJURY TO A CHILD
SB 1551 – Effective 9/1/11.
Establishes that when a crime is committed that causes bodily injury to a child, it may be prosecuted in the county where the offense was committed, the county where the defendant is apprehended, or the county of the child or defendant’s residence. Expands the definition of “missing child” to include a child taken without the permission of the custodian, unless the taking of the child is prompted by family violence. Establishes additional affirmative defenses to offenses related to taking children. See Arts. 13.075, 63.001(3) Code of Crim. Proc., § 25.03(a) Penal Code.

PLEA BY EMAIL OR FAX IF INCARCERATED
SB 1552 – Effective 9/1/11.
Authorizes a court to accept a written plea of guilty or nolo contendere from a person confined in a penal institution by fax or e-mail. See Art. 27.19, Code of Crim. Proc

CHILD SUPPORT
HB 1674 – Effective 9/1/11.
Amends statutes concerning enforcement and modification of child support payments related to medical support payments, child support liens, and receipt of criminal history information. Removes certain requirements for a Child Support Review Order, establishes a payment incentive program to promote payment by obligors who are delinquent in paying assigned child support arrears, and provides that an individual who has failed to pay child support for six months or more may be denied the issuance of a license. See §§ 154.187(c), 154.303(b), 156.401, 157.162, 157.263, 157.311(1) and (4), 157.317(a), 157.3271, 158.203(b) and (b-1), 158.503, 231.015, 231.124, 231.307, 232.0135, 232.014(a), 233.012, 233.013, Fam. Code; § 1108.101, Ins. Code; § 411.1271(b-1) and (c), Gov’t Code, § 34.04(a), Tax Code; and Art. 59.06, Code of Crim, Proc.

UNDER 17 FINE AND COURT COSTS
HB 350 – Effective 9/1/11.
Permits judge to require convicted criminal defendant younger than 17 to satisfy fine and court costs by performing community service or attending tutoring. Only applies to convictions for Class C misdemeanors occurring in building or on grounds of secondary school in which defendant is enrolled. See Art. 45.0492, Code of Crim. Proc. See also Costs, Fees, Fines and Collections.

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