In: Criminal Defense

Emergency Declaration Enhancements in TX During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As with most states, Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas due to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as plans are being made to slowly reopen certain types of businesses in the state, Gov. Abbott extended the disaster declaration on April 12. While most of us are focused on staying safe at home or performing essential jobs, we might not realize that an emergency declaration for Texas has effects on criminal penalties. In the event you are accused of a crime, it is especially important to contact a criminal defense attorney during an official state of disaster.

Implications for Defendants During a Texas State of Disaster

Texas Penal Code 12.50 provides for increased penalties for certain criminal convictions when Texas is under a disaster declaration. If you are charged with a specified offense during this time, the penalties can be enhanced up to the next level of charges. For example, if you are charged with a Class B misdemeanor, your penalties upon a conviction could be increased to those of a Class A misdemeanor if the offense occurred during a declared disaster. If you are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, you could face felony-level penalties instead.

Charges Affected by TPC 12.50

Not every offense will have sentence enhancements in a time of disaster. Under the law, the following offenses will be affected:

  • Assault
  • Domestic assault
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Burglary (including burglary of coin-operated machines and burglary of vehicles)
  • Criminal trespass
  • Theft

Many of these offenses can be charged at various levels depending on whether there are aggravating factors alleged. If a certain crime is usually charged as a first-degree felony, no enhancement will take place. If a crime is usually a first-degree misdemeanor, the minimum imprisonment will be increased to 180 days in jail.

Because sentences for certain offenses can be harsher during this time of emergency, it is more important than ever to have an aggressive defense. Arrests are still occurring regularly throughout Texas during the pandemic, and you can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. You need the right criminal defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible, no matter what your charges might be. Do not underestimate the possible consequences of not having defense representation during this difficult time. We can help you avoid an overly harsh sentence or wrongful conviction.

Contact a Lewisville and Frisco Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Living in an indefinite state of disaster with so much uncertainty about the future can be difficult for anyone, and it only makes it more challenging if you are arrested on suspicion of a crime. At the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, we have conformed our law practice to reflect safety and social distancing measures, though we are still fully available to help both existing and new clients who are facing criminal charges. If you need assistance, call 940-222-2488 or contact us online to discuss your case as soon as possible.