New Law Changes for 2009
All references to laws are to the Texas Penal Code (TX PC) or Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (TX CCP), unless otherwise noted.
Continuous Family Violence
TX PC § 25.11
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 3rd Degree Felony offense if he/she assaults one or more of his/her family members, household members, or a person with whom he/she has a dating relationship, two or more times within a 12 month period.
Strangulation in Family Violence Cases
TX PC § 22.01
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 3rd Degree Felony if he/she assaults a family member, household member, or a person with whom he/she has a dating relationship by applying pressure to the Victim’s neck or mouth and blocks the normal blood flow or normal breathing.
This offense is a 2nd Degree Felony if the Defendant commits the above offense and has any prior conviction involving Family Violence.
TX PC § 42.10, 71.02, and TX CCP Art. 59.01
Under this new law a Defendant commits a Class A Misdemeanor offense if he/she possesses equipment used for dog fighting. Vehicles and dogs can be considered equipment and can be seized and forfeited to law enforcement.
Interference with Police Radio
TX PC § 38.152
Under this new law a Defendant commits a Class A Misdemeanor offense if he/she interrupts, jams, or interferes with a radio frequency used by law enforcement, a fire department, or emergency medical services.
A Defendant commits a State Jail Felony if he/she commits the above offense with the intent to facilitate or assist another offense, or with the intent to interfere with an emergency response.
TX PC § 46.14
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 3rd Degree Felony offense if he/she engages in transporting or transferring a firearm acquired in violation of state or federal law. Engaging means the Defendant either transfers or transports a firearm as listed above more than one time, or the Defendant transfers or transports a firearm for profit. Assets connected to this offense can be seized and forfeited to law enforcement.
A Defendant commits a 2nd Degree Felony if he/she transports or transfers more 3 or more firearms in a single episode.
Driving with Cell Phones in a School Zone
TX Transportation Code § 545.425
Under this new law a Defendant commits a Class C Misdemeanor offense if he/she uses a cell phone or mobile device in a school zone, unless he/she is stopped or using a hands-free device. Note: this applies if the jurisdiction has posted a sign giving notice of the law.
Additionally, bus drivers with minors on board may not use a cell phone or mobile device whether or not the driver has a hands-free device.
Also, drivers under 18 in certain instances may not use cell phones while driving whether or not they use a hands-free device.
TX PC § 33.07
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 3rd Degree Felony offense if he/she uses the name or persona of another person to create a web page or post on a networking site if the Defendant does so without the other’s consent and the Defendant intends to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten ANY person.
A Defendant commits a Class A Misdemeanor if he/she sends a text, email, etc. referring to the identifying information of another person (for example using a name, domain, phone number, etc.) without that other person’s consent and with the intent to cause the recipient to believe the other authorized or sent the communication.
This act (text, email, etc.) becomes a 3rd Degree Felony if the Defendant intends to cause an emergency response.
Drive By Shooting – Janie Lynn De la Paz Act
TX PC § 22.02(b)(3)
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 1st Degree Felony offense if he/she shoots from a motor vehicle in the direction of a house, building, or other motor vehicle, is reckless as to whether the house, building, or other motor vehicle has people inside, and causes serious bodily injury.
Crimes in Evacuated or Disaster Areas
Certain crimes committed in a declared disaster area are now more serious with higher punishment.
Booster Seat Requirement
Under this new law, booster seats are required for all children passengers in motor vehicles until they are either 8 years old or 4’ 9”. (The old law required children passengers to ride in booster seats until they were 5 years old or 3 feet tall).
ALL motor vehicle passengers, regardless of age, must wear seatbelts.
Anti-Gang Omnibus Law
Various code sections
Under this new law a Defendant commits a 1st Degree Felony offense if he/she directs the activities of a criminal street gang. This bill also defines a Gang Free Zone as an area within 1000 feet of a school, youth center, or playground, or an area within 300 feet of a movie theater, shopping mall, public pool, video arcade, or a school bus.
Punishment for Failure to Report as a Juror
Various code sections
The punishment for a person who fails to report as a juror is increased to a fine of not less than $100 and no more than $500.
Motorcycle Passenger Less than 5 years of age
Transportation Code section 545.416
It is now an offense to carry a child less than 5 years of age on a motorcycle, unless the child is riding in a sidecar. The punishment is a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $200.
Seizure of Vehicle used in Racing on a Highway
Transportation Code section 545.420
A police officer is now required to seize a vehicle used in racing on a highway where an accident results in property damage or injury to a person. The owner may not reclaim the vehicle until all removal and storage fees are paid.