New Texas Criminal Laws Take Effect September 1st

A number of new criminal laws that were passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Governor Perry take effect on September 1st, 2014. These laws address a number of issues from drugs to sex crimes, establishing new offenses and imposing stiffer penalties.  Here are a few of the changes to Texas criminal law:

“Bath Salts” and “K2”

Synthetic compounds deceptively labeled as “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana products (K2 or spice) have been added to Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. (HB 2118, SB 331). Penalty Group 2 also includes substances such as   Ecstasy, PCP, magic mushrooms, and mescaline. Bath salts contain dangerous stimulants, and K2 mimics the effects of marijuana. Both have been sold in convenience stores and head shops, and have side effects that can be harmful and long-lasting.Additionally, HB 124 adds Salvia divinorum (unless unharvested and growing in its natural state) – including all parts of the plant, seeds and extracts from a part of the plant – to Penalty Group 3 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

“Sexting”

The electronic transmission or possession of visual material depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct (“sexting”) has been added as an offense in the Penal Code. The penalty can range from a Class C misdemeanor to Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. This does not apply to minors involved in a dating relationship or spouses. (SB 407)

Duties After a Serious Car Accident.

Two new laws impose new duties and penalties involving car accidents that result in serious injury or death.

HB 3668 amends the current law to require the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in the injury or death of a person to immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if so, whether the person requires aid, in addition to other existing statutory requirements.

SB 275 increases the penalty for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death of a person and failing to render aid from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. A second degree felony carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000, whereas a third degree felony carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.

False Police Reports Involving Schools.

HB 1284 increases the penalty for the offense of initiating, communicating or circulating a false report of an emergency (such as a bomb threat) involving an institution of higher education from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

Mark Diaz – Experienced Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer who focuses exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout my career, I have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing I do. I have witnessed firsthand how a criminal charge can negatively impact every area of a person’s life. As a lawyer, I consider it a privilege to help people during this stressful time in their lives. Call me today at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.