The regular 82nd legislative session ended on May 30, 2011, and the following House and Senate bills will all take effect on September 1, 2011. The following summary of the laws concerning the criminal justice system will effect the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which can be located at the Texas Constitution and Statutes website. As with all new laws, the changes made apply only to offenses committed on or after the effective date.
Misdemeanor Fines and Costs:
House Bill 27 amends the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 42.15 and 45.041. This bill applies to defendants of misdemeanor cases who are unable to pay the full amount of the court fines and costs in one payment. When a judge declares the sentence in a case, under the old law the judge could either require the defendant to pay the entire amount of the fines and costs at the time of sentencing or require the defendant to pay the entire amount at a later date. Under the new law, the court has the authority to set-up a payment plan for a defendant. For many people, this will help alleviate much of the stress associated with a misdemeanor case.
New Conditions for Defendants Being Placed on Deferred Adjudication:
For defendants who are going to be placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, House Bill 1106 outlines information that the court must supply. According to amended article 42.12, the court must inform the defendant that they have the right to petition for an order of nondisclosure (i.e. sealing of records, as outlined in Government Code 411.081) if the defendant is eligible. The defendant is limited in pursuing a petition of nondisclosure based on the nature of the offense and/or the defendant’s criminal history. In addition, the bill also outlines the information that must be presented to a defendant in the event of a dismissed case. “A judge who dismisses the proceedings against a defendant and discharges the defendant” must provide a copy of the order of dismissal and discharge and inform the defendant of their right to nondisclosure.