Information for the News Media

Public Information Office
(512) 424-2080

August 19, 2003


New Criminal Laws

Notable Texas criminal laws taking effect in 2003:


SB 501 allows the holder of a Texas concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun in a governmental building.   This does not include courthouses, schools or polling places on election

HB 12 expands the definition of disorderly conduct to include someone looking into a restroom, shower stall or changing room for a lewd or unlawful purpose. The offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine.

HB 705 requires home repair or delivery companies to check the criminal histories of their employees who enter private residences as part of the service they provide. Services covered under this bill include appliance repair; heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems; plumbing; electrical systems; home product deliveries; or services where an employee would enter a residence to place, assemble or install an item. The statute allows additional civil protection if the resident requests a criminal history prior to the employee being sent to the home.

SB 443 allows an administrator of a non-profit youth program to check the criminal history of a volunteer or applicant for a program that provides athletic, civic or cultural activities to children under the age of 17. The non-profit organization can check the criminal backgrounds to determine suitability as a volunteer, but cannot keep the information or give it to anyone else. (Note: this law went into effect on June 20.)

SB 408 increases the punishment for someone who makes a terroristic threat against a family member, a member of the household or a public servant. The punishment increases from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

Under HB 325 , someone who witnesses the commission of a felony that could cause serious bodily injury or death and does not immediately report the crime to the police can be prosecuted for a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

HB 420 increases the punishment to the next higher level for various offenses committed against the elderly, including theft and several fraud offenses.

HB 532 makes it illegal for a public or private school teacher to engage in sexual activity with a student. The offense is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum prison term of 20 years and a   $10,000 fine.

SB 433 , based on the model of family violence protective orders, this bill allows a rape victim to obtain a sexual assault protective order, without regard to the relationship between the victim and the alleged attacker.

Under SB 837 , sexual assault of a disabled person is elevated to a charge of aggravated sexual assault, which is a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

HB 716 makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a non-participant to assault a sports participant, including the athlete, coach, referee, etc.

SB 693 regulates the use of pyrotechnics or flame effects displays for entertainment and requires that those displays conform with federal regulations.

HB 9 creates a homeland defense strategy to improve the state's ability to detect and deter threats to homeland security, respond to homeland security emergencies and recover from those emergencies. The law also declares September 11 each year to be Texas First Responders Day. (Note: this law went into effect on June 22.)

HB 11 makes it a capital felony to commit intentional murder while committing the offense of terroristic threat. A capital felony is punished by life in prison or death.

HB 284 allows a person to carry a handgun, knife or club in a recreational vehicle, travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home or horse trailer with living quarters.

HB 562 expands the pool of inmates who are required to submit DNA samples to CODIS (the state's Combined DNA Indexing System). A juvenile or adult convicted of capital murder must submit a DNA sample for inclusion in the database.

The texts of these bills can be found at www .capitol.state.tx.us . Select the enrolled version.