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texas criminal defense lawyerIn addition to serving jail time and paying fines, convicted felons are forced to forfeit certain rights. At the State and Federal levels, felons face unique restrictions not imposed on the rest of society. Texas is no different in this regard.

Felons face many unique limitations in the Lone Star State, but one in particular stands out – gun possession.

The State places certain restrictions on when a Texan with a felony conviction may own a gun.

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texas criminal defense lawyerAt more than 1,200 miles, Texas has the longest border with Mexico than any other state in the country. Although concerns about illegal immigration are largely a federal matter, state lawmakers and residents in many ways see it as a state issue as well. So, it begs the question: when is human smuggling a state or federal crime in Texas? 

The short answer is the fate of a person who smuggles illegal immigrants, or people who have entered the country without prior authorization from the U.S. government, largely depends on the law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest and the severity of the crime. 

State Human Smuggling Laws

The Texas Penal Code considers the smuggling of persons as a felony and defines it in three different ways. 

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texas defense lawyerTexas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new anti-smuggling law last month that increases the penalty for human smuggling. It also removes the need for prosecutors prove that a smuggler received payment for the smuggling. He explains that Senate Bill 576 will expand the tools that will “help us crackdown on human smuggling and keep our communities safe.”

Governor Abbott signed the bill on September 22 at a ceremony in McAllen, a border town that serves as a major port of entry. State Representative JM Lozano, a Republican from Portland who sponsored the bill, joined the governor during the signing ceremony. 

Senate Bill 576

According to the new law, human smuggling is defined as:

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texas defense lawyerThis month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a measure that rewrites the state’s bail system. The governor and his supporters say Senate Bill 6, dubbed the Damon Allen Act, will increase public safety. Critics argue it will just make things harder for people who cannot afford a cash bond.

The Damon Allen Act

The Damon Allen Act amends the current bail system by prohibiting personal bond to those charged with a violent crime or who have been arrested while released on bail. Additionally, the measure requires that the court consider the defendant’s criminal history before granting or denying bond and do so within 48 hours of their arrest. 

State Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican representing District 17, explained the Damon Allen Act requires the court to establish a Public Safety Report System, a database accessible by court officials so they can review the defendant’s criminal history and overall risk. The measure will also require the bond setter to complete a form stating that they conducted the risk assessment before granting bond. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_467889392.jpgTexas enacted more than 650 new laws on September 1, including a law elevating the consequences for guards who have sex with an inmate. Improper sexual activity with a person in custody is now a second-degree felony, on par with sexual assault

Senate Bill 312 was filed in January by state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican representing District 17, which covers Harris County. It passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate before it was signed into law, without comment, by Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Debate About SB 312

Critics of the measure say it was unnecessary because improper sexual activity with a person in custody was already punished as a state jail felony. Under the law, a guard having sex with an inmate is looked at as rape because of the power dynamic. Therefore, the bill would be moot. 

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