Laws that Went into Effect This Month in Texas

Criminal Court

Criminal CourtAs of the beginning of September, there are some Texas laws that have gone into effect (more than 670, in fact). Here’s a short breakdown of a few of them that you may have heard about.

  • House Bill 62. This is a statewide ban on texting and driving that makes it a misdemeanor offense to use a wireless communications device to read, write or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. If the car is stopped, you can text, even at red lights – but it’s still not recommended.
  • Attacking police officers is now considered a hate crime, which can enhance certain charges. For example, intoxication assault against a police officer is now a first-degree felony.
  • House Bill 1935 has legalized open carry of knives and blades five and a half inches and over. Yes – that means you are now legally allowed to open carry a sword. Have at thee! Of course, you still can’t carry a sword into a school, bar, hospital or church.

Other 2017 Laws

These changes join a variety of other laws that went into effect in 2017, including:

  • expansion of the sex offender list
  • changes to prostitution laws
  • changes to Class C expunctions
  • banning improvised explosive devices
  • increasing penalties for damaging dams
  • making it illegal to operate drones too close to stadiums, prisons and jails
  • increased penalties for forms of election fraud
  • language updates regarding awareness of age of victim and definition of consent in sexual assault and statutory rape
  • adding several drugs to the list of controlled substances
  • making it possible to get a DWI conviction nondisclosed
  • and many more

As always, if you are charged with a crime in Texas, the most effective way to have your charges and penalties reduced or dropped is to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense attorney.

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