Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed 774 new laws that took effect Sep 1, 2023. From transgender rights to education, these laws affect every aspect of life for Texans and how they interact with the legal system.

FRISCO, TX, November 03, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Whalen Law Office, a leading criminal defense firm in Frisco, is shedding light on the implications of the recent law changes. The firm aims to provide clarity and guidance to individuals facing criminal charges in the state.

“At Whalen Law Office, we believe in empowering individuals with knowledge. Understanding the laws that affect you is the first step towards safeguarding your rights and interests in any legal situation,” said James Whalen, criminal justice attorney and founding partner of Whalen Law Office.

These recent legal changes encompass a wide range of aspects within the criminal justice system. It’s crucial for individuals to grasp the implications of these changes, which may influence their rights and legal standing.

15 New Criminal Laws in Texas — Explained

HB 17: Accountability for District Attorneys
One significant reform is HB 17, which empowers courts to remove district attorneys for misconduct if they choose not to prosecute certain types of crimes. This measure was introduced to address concerns of “rogue prosecutors” in largely Democratic counties who failed to pursue abortion-related crimes.

HB 28: Stricter Penalties for Aggravated Assaults
HB 28 addresses aggravated assaults by elevating the criminal penalty for assailants who use deadly weapons and cause traumatic brain or spinal injuries resulting in a vegetative state or paralysis. This change in law, effective from September 1, 2023, ensures that those who commit these crimes face more severe consequences.

HB 30: Enhancing Transparency in Public Records
Transparency in public records is crucial for maintaining trust in the justice system. HB 30 closes the “dead suspect” loophole, ensuring government agencies cannot withhold information in cases where suspects die in police custody or are killed by law enforcement.

HB 63: Balancing Child Abuse Reporting
While protecting children from abuse is of utmost importance, HB 63 raises concerns among child advocates. This bill requires callers or online reporters to provide their personal information when reporting child abuse cases, aiming to deter false reports. However, there are worries that this requirement might discourage actual reports of abuse or neglect.

HB 393: Restitution for Victims of Intoxication Manslaughter
Restitution for victims is a crucial aspect of justice, and HB 393 ensures that defendants convicted of intoxication manslaughter must provide financial support to children who have lost a parent or guardian in the crash.

This measure acknowledges the long-term impact on the lives of these children and seeks to provide them with necessary support until they reach adulthood.

HB 1163: Protecting Young Passengers
HB 1163 creates a separate criminal offense for boating while intoxicated with a child passenger, offering additional protection for young individuals. By defining a child passenger as someone under the age of 15, this bill emphasizes the importance of safeguarding vulnerable members of society.

HB 1184: Advancing Criminal Justice Research
HB 1184 grants researchers funded by government funds or criminal justice grants access to criminal history record information databases for research purposes. This expansion of access promotes evidence-based policymaking and advances the understanding of criminal justice issues.

HB 1442: Combating Street Racing and Takeovers
To combat street racing and street takeovers, HB 1442 equips law enforcement officials and prosecutors with additional tools. Police can now seize and impound cars used in reckless driving or highway racing under HB 1442 and HB 2889, respectively.

HB 2660: Enhancing Missing Person Reporting
HB 2660, also known as “Tim’s Law,” mandates law enforcement agencies to electronically submit missing person reports to relevant databases and neighboring agencies. This legislation aims to prevent cases like Timothy Perez’s, whose missing person status was not communicated effectively, resulting in tragic consequences.

HB 3858: Supporting Law Enforcement Mental Health
Promoting the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers is crucial, and HB 3858 allows qualifying law enforcement agencies to establish mental health wellness programs with state grants and funding.

SB 602: Empowering Border Patrol Agents
SB 602 grants Border Patrol agents the authority of police officers to arrest and conduct search and seizure for offenses under Texas or federal law. This expansion of powers aims to enhance border security and improve the efficiency of law enforcement operations.

SB 840: Protecting Healthcare Professionals
Assaulting hospital personnel is a serious offense, and SB 840 increases the penalty for such acts from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

SB 1004: Deterring Electronic Monitoring Device Tampering
Tampering with electronic monitoring devices is now a criminal offense under SB 1004, with penalties classified as a third-degree felony. This legislation aims to deter individuals from interfering with electronic monitoring systems, promoting public safety and effective supervision.

SB 2479: Expanding Support for Offenders with Mental Illness
Jail reporting requirements for offenders with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities have been expanded under SB 2479 to include all offenders, not just those facing higher-level offenses. This measure ensures that appropriate support and resources are provided to individuals with mental health needs.

HB 6: Combatting Fentanyl-Related Crimes
HB 6 increases penalties for manufacturing or selling fentanyl, resulting in death, classifying fentanyl overdoses as “poisonings,” and allowing murder charges against those supplying the fatal dose.

What These Laws Mean for You
As a trusted criminal defense law firm, Whalen Law Office remains committed to upholding the principles of justice and providing exceptional legal representation to individuals across Texas.

With these new criminal laws in place, not only do many charges now carry more severe penalties, but there are also some entirely new charges that didn’t exist before. For someone facing criminal charges, this means the potential for more severe consequences and, in some cases, being charged with offenses they may not have been aware of previously.

To navigate these complex legal changes effectively, it’s crucial to stay informed and consult an experienced defense attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

What to Do If Arrested or Charged

If you find yourself arrested or charged with a crime, knowing what steps to take to protect your rights and build a strong defense is essential.

Here are some key actions to consider:

Invoke your right to remain silent: You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. Politely inform law enforcement that you choose to invoke your right to silence.
Request an attorney: Ask for an attorney immediately. Do not answer any questions or provide statements without legal counsel present. An attorney will help safeguard your interests throughout the legal process.
Cooperate within legal limits: While protecting your rights is crucial, cooperate with law enforcement within the boundaries of the law. Resisting arrest or being uncooperative can lead to additional charges.
Document the incident: If possible, make mental notes about the incident, including any witnesses, conversations, or actions taken by law enforcement.

You have the right to a fair and impartial legal process, and the Whalen Law Office in Frisco is dedicated to providing you with the representation you need to navigate these legal reforms effectively.

If you have any questions or are facing criminal charges, visit their website at https://www.whalenlawoffice.com/ to schedule a consultation.

Whalen Law Office is a leading criminal defense law firm based in Frisco, Texas. With a team of experienced attorneys, the firm is dedicated to providing effective legal solutions and protecting the rights of individuals facing criminal charges. Led by James P. Whalen, their team offers personalized representation, strategic defense, and unwavering advocacy to ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.

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