Austin, Texas
April 6, 2011

Honorable Tommy Williams, Chair, Senate Committee on Transportation & Homeland Security
John S O'Brien, Director, Legislative Budget Board
SB1035 by Williams (Relating to motor vehicle title services; providing penalties.), As Introduced

The provisions of the bill that are the subject of this analysis are the provisions that would deal with criminal sanctions for motor vehicle title services. The bill would amend the Transportation Code to provide that a person commits a criminal offense if the person violates a rule related to the regulations of motor vehicle title services adopted by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, rather than a rule adopted by the county tax assessor-collector. The bill would also make the operation of a motor vehicle title service without obtaining a license, or the falsification of information relating to a license application or security, an offense punishable as a state jail felony. At present, an offense involving a violation of motor vehicle title services provisions is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor.
A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by confinement in county jail for a term not to exceed one year and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000. A state jail felony is punishable by confinement in a state jail for a term from 180 days to 2 years and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $10,000 or Class A Misdemeanor punishment (mandatory post conviction community supervision).
Expanding the list of behaviors for which a penalty is applied for any criminal offense or 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 jail, state jail or prison. When an offense is changed from a misdemeanor to a felony, there is a transfer of the burden of confinement of convicted offenders from the counties to the State. In the case of this bill, the impact on correctional populations would depend on how many persons would be prosecuted under the provisions of the bill, and the extent to which punishment would be enhanced under the proposed statute compared to existing statute. In fiscal year 2010, less than 10 individuals were arrested, or placed on misdemeanor community supervision for a criminal offense involving a violation of motor vehicle title services provisions. For this analysis, it is assumed the number of 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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