Q:

Is it a crime to send a sexually explicit unsolicited commercial email?

A:

Yes, however, Texas Business and Commerce Code Sec. 321.052(a) provides a potential “safe harbor” under Texas law. Failure to comply with 321.052(a) may lead to criminal liability under Sec. 321.101. TRANSMISSION OF MESSAGE CONTAINING OBSCENE MATERIAL OR MATERIAL DEPICTING SEXUAL CONDUCT; CRIMINAL PENALTY. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally takes an action to transmit a message that contains obscene material or material depicting sexual conduct in violation of Section 321.052(a)(1).

Q:

Is it a defense if a person who is charged with online solicitation of a minor, but the person with whom he was chatting wasn’t underage, and/or the meeting never occurred?

A:

No. It does not matter if the person to whom the actor is chatting is underage. 33.021 (1) states:

(1) “Minor” means:
(A) an individual who represents himself or herself to be younger than 17 years of age; or
(B) an individual whom the actor believes to be younger than 17 years of age.

Texas Penal Code Sec. 33.021:

(d) It is not a defense to prosecution under [TPC 33.021] Subsection (c) that:

(1) the meeting did not occur;
(2) the actor did not intend for the meeting to occur; or
(3) the actor was engaged in a fantasy at the time of commission of the offense.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that at the time conduct described by Subsection (b) or (c) was committed:

(1) the actor was married to the minor; or
(2) the actor was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.

Q:

Is it against the law to falsify (munge) internet headers or use fake subject lines when sending unsolicited emails?

A:

Yes. Sec. 321.051(b) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code specifically addresses this:
(b) A person may not intentionally transmit a commercial electronic mail message that:
(1) is an unsolicited commercial electronic mail message and falsifies the electronic mail transmission or routing information;
(2) contains false, deceptive, or misleading information in the subject line; or

(3) uses another person’s Internet domain name without the other person’s consent.

Q:

Is it illegal if I hire someone to do my term papers for me?

A:

Sec. 32.50 of the Texas Penal Code makes this a Class C misdemeanor.

The statute says, “A person commits an offense if, with intent to make a profit, the person prepares, sells, offers or advertises for sale, or delivers to another person an academic product when the person knows, or should reasonably have known, that a person intends to submit or use the academic product to satisfy an academic requirement of a person other than the person who prepared the product.
(c) A person commits an offense if, with intent to induce another person to enter into an agreement or obligation to obtain or have prepared an academic product, the person knowingly makes or disseminates a written or oral statement that the person will prepare or cause to be prepared an academic product to be sold for use in satisfying an academic requirement of a person other than the person who prepared the product.”

The statute has a safe harbor provision for jointly prepared assignments with school employees, tutors and transcriptionists.

Q:

Is it still a crime if I use identification from a deceased person?

A:

Yes. Sec. 32.51 specifically references falsely using the identification credentials of a deceased person as your own.

Q:

I’ve been charged with hindering a secured creditor? What is the punishment for hindering a secured creditor?

A:

This is governed by Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.33(e):

(1) a Class C misdemeanor if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of less than $20;
(2) a Class B misdemeanor if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $20 or more but less than $500;
(3) a Class A misdemeanor if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $500 or more but less than $1,500;
(4) a state jail felony if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
(5) a felony of the third degree if the proceeds
obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
(6) a felony of the second degree if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
(7) a felony of the first degree if the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition are money or goods having a value of $200,000 or more.


Q:

I’ve been charged with providing a false statement to obtain credit. What exactly is this and what can they do?

A:

This is a very serious offense. This is governed by Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.32. The more common activities include falsely stating an inflated income on a mortgage application, or falsely increasing your income to obtain a loan. Either way, if the amount of credit granted as a result of a false statement is greater than $1,500, then the actor may be charged with a felony. Also, there may be federal charges in many cases.

Q:

What about flying or boating while intoxicated?

A:

Secs. 49.05, 49.06 and 49.065 cover flying, boating and assembling and/or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated. In most circumstances it would be a Class B misdemeanor.

Q:

What are misdemeanor punishments?

A:

Crimes in Texas are divided into two categories: felonies (serious crimes) and misdemeanors (less serious.) Misdemeanors are further broken down into classes A (most severe) through C (least severe.)

Q:

What are the different types of felonies and punishments in Texas?

A:

Absent extenuating circumstances, the “ordinary” felony punishments are listed below, as set forth in the Texas Penal Code. Felonies are broken down from capital felonies (most severe, to degrees (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and then state jail felonies (least severe.) There are enhancements to the punishments available in many circumstances.

Q:

What happens if someone dies as a result of a DWI?

A:

There are a number of things that can occur. On the criminal side, Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.08 make such action a second degree felony. The deceased person’s personal representative can also sue the drunk driver for wrongful death and for injuries that the deceased suffered before death.

Q:

What happens if someone is seriously injured in a DWI?

A:

The person was was intoxicated may be charged with Intoxication Assault, under Sec. 49.07 of the Texas Penal Code. if the intoxicated actor causes “a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ” that person may be charged with Intoxication Assault, a third degree felony.

Q:

What happens if you are charged with driving while intoxicated and you have a minor in the car with you at the time?

A:

You would violated Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.045. DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED WITH CHILD PASSENGER.

That statute says:

(a) A person commits an offense if:
(1) the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
(2) the vehicle being operated by the person is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
(b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.

Q:

What is a DWI enhancement?

A:

A penalty for a DWI conviction may be enlarged or enhanced under Sec. 49.09 of the Texas Penal Code. Typically, a punishment (or level of offense) is increased due to either a prior conviction for DWI, or because an emergency service worker was injured or killed as a result of a DWI.

Q:

What is money laundering?

A:

Money laundering is the act of making money that came from an illegal source appear to have come from a legitimate source. The penalties can be severe, and may include substantial jail time.

Q:

What is Online Harassment?

A:

Sec. 33.07 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a third degree felony if a person uses the name or persona of another to create a web page or post on a commercial networking site without permission and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten another person.

Q:

What is sexual harassment?

A:

Sexual harassment may involve different things. The two most common types of sexual harassment cases involve quid pro quo (exchanging a sexual favor for employment perks) and hostile working environment.

Q:

What is the legal definition of “intoxicated” in Texas?

A:

Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.01. (2) “Intoxicated” means:

(A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;

or

(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

This means that if you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of less than .08, but you are not in the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to alcohol, you may still be considered to be intoxicated.

Q:

What is the “online solicitation of a minor”?

A:

This is covered by Texas Penal Code Sec. 33.021. The gist of the code is that if a person who is 17 or older “commits an offense if, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, the person, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, intentionally:
(1) communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor; or
(2) distributes sexually explicit material to a minor”


Q:

What is the penalty for making gifts and hiding assets from Medicaid?

A:

In the state of Texas, it is a criminal offense to defraud a governmental agency, such as Medicaid. The penalties can be very severe, and may include fines and jail time. Gifting in violation of Medicaid rules can cause a disqualification of Medicaid benefits for a period of time.

Q:

What statutes cover driving while intoxicated?

A:

Texas Penal Code Title 10 (Offenses against the public health, safety and morals) Chapter 49 “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverages Offenses”