Austin, Texas
March 10, 2009

Honorable Frank Corte, Jr., Chair, House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs
John S. O'Brien, Director, Legislative Budget Board
HB761 by Creighton (Relating to the penalty for certain property offenses committed during certain declared states of disaster.), As Introduced

The bill would amend the Penal Code by enhancing the punishment to the next highest category of offense for property offenses committed in an area declared to be under a state of disaster.  The offenses specified by the bill include arson, criminal mischief, robbery, burglary, criminal trespass, theft and fraud.  If the offense for which the punishment is increased by the bill is ordinarily punished as a Class A misdemeanor, the offense remains a Class A misdemeanor but the minimum term of confinement is increased to 180 days. 
A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by confinement in a county jail for any term of not more than one year, or, in addition to confinement, a fine not to exceed $4,000.
Increasing the penalty for any criminal offense is expected to result in increased demands upon the correctional resources of counties or of the State due to longer terms of probation, or, longer terms of confinement in county jails or prison. The impact of this proposal would depend on the future number of disaster events and the number of times that the enhancement of punishment would occur as a result of the proposal.  A check of Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, Department of Public Safety records, Office of Court Administration records, and Jail Standards Commission records did not reveal any information that would help estimate the past number of property offenses committed in areas considered to be disaster areas.  It is assumed that the number of additional offenders convicted under this statute would not result in a significant impact on the programs and workload of state corrections agencies or on the demand for resources and services of those agencies.

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LBB Staff: