Municipal Courts

H.B. 121 (Fletcher/Whitmire) - Payment of Fine and Court Costs: provides that: (1) a court may adopt an alternative procedure for collecting a past due capias pro fine; and (2) a peace officer who executes a capias pro fine or who is authorized to arrest a defendant on other grounds and knows that the defendant owes a past due payment must inform the defendant of: (a) the possibility of making an immediate payment to the officer of the fine and court costs owed using a credit or debit card; and (b) the defendant’s available alternatives to making an immediate payment. (Effective immediately.)

H.B. 263 (Miles/Huffman) - Juvenile Records: requires a juvenile court to order the sealing of the records in the case of a person who has been found to have engaged in delinquent conduct as a juvenile if two years have elapsed since the final discharge or last official action in the person’s case. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 274 (Miles/Lucio) - Illegal Dumping: increases the maximum fine for violation of an illegal dumping ordinance from $2,000 to $4,000, and adjusts the municipal court jurisdiction threshold accordingly. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 1436 (Smithee/Lucio) - Dangerous Dogs: makes changes to the dangerous dog appeals process, including: (1) prohibiting a municipal court from ordering the destruction of a dog during an appeal; (2) requiring the animal control authority of a city to notify an owner of a dangerous dog determination in writing; (3) providing a process for an owner to file an appeal a dangerous dog determination; (4) requiring the municipal court to determine the estimated costs to house and care for an impounded dog during the appeal process and set a bond for an appeal adequate to cover the costs; and (5) allowing a party to appeal the decision in the county court or county court at law in the county in which the municipal court is located. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 1386 (Raymond/Ellis) - Municipal Court: removes the limitation in current law that municipal court cases may have only one attorney conducting the prosecution or defense. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 1888 (Capriglione/Taylor) - Commercial Driver’s Licenses: provides: (1) for the creation of a commercial learner’s permit and non-domiciled commercial learner’s permit; (2) for a defense to the offense of driving a commercial motor vehicle without a license if the person charged can produce in court a commercial learner’s permit or driver’s license; (3) that a court may assess a defendant an administrative fee of $10 if a charge is dismissed because of the defense; (4) that a person commits an offense if the person operates a vehicle that is not in compliance with the applicable inspection requirements; and (5) for an administrative fee not to exceed $20 on remediation of charge of operating a vehicle without complying with inspection requirements as certified. (Effective January 1, 2016.)

H.B. 2398 (White/Whitmire) - Truancy: provides that: (1) a municipal court may dismiss a complaint against an individual for the offense of parent contributing to nonattendance of school, if the court finds that a dismissal would be in the interest of justice; (2) an individual who has been convicted of a truancy offense or has had a truancy offense dismissed is entitled to have the conviction or complaint and records relating to the conviction or complaint expunged; (3) school districts shall take specified truancy prevention measures; (4) the fine amount for a failure to attend school violation is $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, $300 for a third offense, $400 for a fourth offense, or $500 for a fifth or subsequent offense; (5) municipal courts are truancy courts; (6) a child engages in truant conduct if the child is required to attend school and fails to attend school on 10 or more days within a six-month period; (7) truancy courts must follow statutory procedures found in chapter 65 of the Texas Family Code; (8) truancy courts may appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of a child in a proceeding; (9) the court may order a child’s parent to reimburse the county or city for the cost of the guardian ad litem; (10) a child who has been found to have engaged in truant conduct may apply, on or after the child’s 18th birthday, to the truancy court to seal the records relating to the allegation; (11) a city may establish a judicial donation trust fund as a separate account outside the municipal treasury; (12) a city may accept a gift, grant, donation, or other consideration from a public or private source that is designated for the judicial donation trust fund; (13) the city council must adopt procedures necessary to receive and disburse money from the fund; and (14) a judge may award money from the fund to eligible children who appear before the court for a truancy or curfew violation. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 2747 (Landgraf/Creighton) - Jurors: disqualifies a person from serving as a juror if the person is not a citizen of the United States. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 2945 (Alonzo/Hancock) - Juvenile Case Manager Fund: provides that, if there is money leftover in the juvenile case manager fund after the juvenile case manager’s salary and expenses are paid, on approval by the employing court, the juvenile case manager may direct the remaining money to be used for educational programs, including juvenile alcohol and substance abuse programs. (Effective immediately.)

Vetoed H.B. 3579 (Alonzo/Rodriguez) - Expunction of Records: provides that: (1) a person who is convicted of and has satisfied the judgment for, or who has received a dismissal after deferral of disposition for, a fine-only misdemeanor, other than an offense under the Transportation Code or municipal ordinance, may petition the court for an order of nondisclosure; (2) the court shall hold a hearing on whether the person is entitled to file the petition and whether issuance of the order is in the best interest of justice; and (3) the clerk of a court that collects a fee for the petition shall deposit the fee to the credit of the general fund of the city. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

H.B. 4003 (Laubenberg/Taylor) - Juvenile Records: requires the custodian of a juvenile record or file to redact any personally identifiable information about a victim of a juvenile’s delinquent conduct before disclosing the juvenile court record or file. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

Vetoed H.B. 4103 (Guillen/Garcia) - Judges: provides that a municipal judge who continues to serve because the city council failed to take action to remove or reappoint the judge as required by law may continue to perform the duties of the office without taking an additional oath of office. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

S.B. 108 (Whitmire/Thompson) - Juvenile Offenses: provides that: (1) records of a person under 17 years of age may be expunged if the person was acquitted of the offense; (2) for the purposes of offenses under the Education Code, a child means a person who is a student and at least 10 years of age and younger than 18 years of age. (Effective September 1, 2015.) 

S.B. 873 (Rodriguez/Moody) - Capias Pro Fine: provides that if the municipal court that issued a capias pro fine is unavailable, the arresting officer may take the defendant before a municipal court that is located in the city of arrest in lieu of placing the defendant in jail. (Effective September 1, 2015.)

S.B. 1116 (West/Smithee) - Notice: allows a court clerk to send any notice or document using mail or electronic mail (Effective September 1, 2015.)

S.B. 1707 (Huffman/Miles) - Juvenile Records: requires the court to give the prosecuting attorney for a juvenile court reasonable notice before a person’s juvenile records become eligible for sealing, and allows the court to hold a hearing on the matter upon the prosecuting attorney’s request. (Effective September 1, 2015.)


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