Laws in Texas routinely change, presenting challenges for those who wish to comply with the law. The Law Office of Chad West wants to help our clients avoid legal trouble and stay on top of important legal developments. 

The following new laws for 2015-2016 may be of interest to you:

Alcoholic Beverages in Sports Arenas

House Bill 2339 repealed laws that prohibited sports fans from taking their alcoholic beverages from one area of an arena to another.  This means that you can now walk around sports venues with your beer, without worrying about violating the law!

Fireworks

Fireworks are a lot of fun, but the sale and use of fireworks are tightly regulated in Texas.  House Bill 1150 allows Texans to purchase fireworks on the days before Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day and Memorial Day.  

Gay Marriage

The Pastor Protection Act, Senate Bill 2065, shields clergy who refuse to marry same-sex couples from lawsuits.  This law was passed before the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage.  

Guns

2016 brought increased rights to Texans with a concealed carry license.  

  • House Bill 910 makes it legal for anyone with a concealed carry permit to openly carry their handgun in a hip or shoulder holster. Private business can still prohibit individuals from carrying weapons on their property. This law went into effect on January 1, 2016.  

  • Senate Bill 11 was also enacted in 2016.  It requires public universities in Texas to permit concealed handguns in dorms, classrooms, cafeterias, and any other campus buildings. Certain areas of public universities remain off-limits for handguns, due to safety concerns expressed by university presidents. Private universities are exempt from this legislation, which went into effect on August 1, 2016.

  • House Bill 554 also offers additional protections for Texans with concealed handgun permits.  It prohibits peace officers from arresting anyone who is legally carrying a handgun in an airport, as long as that person immediately exits the screening checkpoint after being notified that he or she is not permitted to have a gun in there.

Marijuana Laws

  • The Compassionate Use Act, Senate Bill 339, permits the use of a particular type of cannabis oil, known as CBD oil, for patients with intractable epilepsy.  While this law tightly regulates and restricts the use of medical marijuana, it signals an openness towards legalization that was previous unheard of in the conservative Texas legislature.  The Texas Department of Public Safety is expected to begin issuing permits to cultivate and sell the cannabis oil in June 2017

  • While Senate Bill 339 was enacted to allow limited use of medical marijuana, House Bill 265, which would have legalized all forms of marijuana, did not pass.  We will continue to follow developments in Texas law related to the legalization of medical marijuana.

  • While the Texas legislature may be moving towards legalization real marijuana, but it is firmly against the use of synthetic marijuana. Senate Bill 173 criminalizes all strains of synthetic marijuana, which is often marketed as K2 or Spice.  In previous years, the problem with making synthetics illegals was that chemists would constantly tweak the chemical structure to skirt the law. SB 173 covers the 12 potential cores and ring structures from which synthetics can be made. This bill aims to close the loophole by banning the manufacture, possession, use, and sale of all synthetic marijuana.

Record Sealing

The Second Chances Bill, Senate Bill 1902, allows individuals with specific low-level misdemeanors to petition the court to have their criminal record sealed Contact our office to determine if your criminal record can be sealed under this law.

Sex-Related Crimes

  • A new bill criminalizes what is known as “revenge porn.”  Senate Bill 1135, Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material, provides criminal penalties and the possibility of a civil lawsuit to anyone who discloses or promotes revenge porn.  This includes websites that publish revenge porn material.

  • House Bill 207 adds a new sex crime to the criminal code, voyeurism.  This crime occurs when a person observes another person with the intent to be sexually gratified, in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

  • House Bill 189 eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual assault if there is cause to believe that the perpetrator has committed the same or similar sexual offense against 5 or more victims.  This means that in cases where a person is accused of being a serial rapist, the prosecutor will be able to charge him or her with older crimes that may have been barred before this law was passed.