820 bills passed by the latest session of Texas State Legislature became law on September 1, 2019. Many of these laws will have a profound impact — good and bad — for those charged with criminal felonies and misdemeanors in Houston and Harris County. Here’s a list of 15 of these new laws that could affect your case if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime in Texas after September 1, 2019:
Extends the criminal statute of limitations for certain sex offenses and the collection, analysis, and preservation of evidence (regardless of whether it has been subject to forensic DNA testing) of sexual assault and other sex offenses.
Aimed at stopping “porch pirates” — HB 37 makes it a felony to deprive an addressee of their mail (a letter, postal card, package, bag, or other sealed article sent through a common carrier and addressed to a person other than the sender), or appropriate pieces of mail that, in the aggregate, are addressed to at least three persons other than the actor.
Amends Texas “revenge porn” statute, specifying that a person commits a criminal or civil offense when they intentionally share or disclose intimate visual material without the consent of the depicted person and/or with the intent to harm that person.
HB 121 seeks to provide a defense to prosecution for offenses of trespass by a handgun license holder who promptly leaves a premises after receiving oral notice that entry on the premises with a handgun was forbidden.
Possessing “knuckles” weapons — instruments designed, made, or adapted for use in striking a person with a fist — is no longer a third degree felony in Texas.
“Lauren’s Law” moves the age of a victim for which a suspect can be prosecuted for a capital felony from under age 10 to under the age of 15.
Addresses concerns that jury instructions regarding parole eligibility for good conduct time credits may influence jurors to impose a higher sentence to account for what they believe will be various opportunities for an early release from prison.
Legalizes the cultivation and production of hemp and other hemp-related products — such as CBD — that have less than 0.3 percent of THC. Possession of cannabis containing more than 0.3 percent THC is still illegal in Texas. (This law took effect on June 10.)
1399 expands the felony offenses for which a defendant must provide a DNA sample at the time of arrest.
The use of red light cameras is now banned in Texas. (This bill took effect on June 2.)
HB 1760 amends the Family Code to authorize the disclosure of certain juvenile records to an individual or entity to whom a child is referred for treatment or services, including a prosecuting attorney; a parent, guardian, or custodian with whom a child will reside after the child’s release or discharge from a juvenile facility; and a governmental agency or court if the record is necessary for an administrative or legal proceeding. The bill prohibits an individual or entity that receives such confidential information from disclosing the information unless otherwise authorized by law.
Repeals provisions relating to the establishment and administration of the Driver Responsibility Program (DSP) and makes that repeal applicable to any surcharge pending on the bill’s effective date, regardless of whether the surcharge was imposed before that date. The bill also requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to reinstate any driver’s license — without a reinstatement fee — that is suspended under the program as of the bill’s effective date if the only reason for the suspension is a failure to pay such a surcharge.
A person found guilty of human trafficking, promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution is now ineligible for community supervision if the defendant has previously been placed on community supervision for any of those offenses or for sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, indecency with a child or certain felony offenses that subject a defendant to child safety zones.
HB 2789 makes the electronic transmission of sexually-explicit visual material without consent a Class C misdemeanor.
Revises certain aspects of the law relating to DWI, including authorizing judges to grant deferred adjudication community supervision for defendants who commit certain intoxication offenses.
Questions About These New Laws? Speak With a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a leading Houston criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Houston or Harris County after September 1, 2019, and are wondering how these new laws will affect your case, call the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and learn how these new laws relate to your situation and how Lisa can help you get the best outcome in your case.