Certain crimes committed during crisis will increase in penalty

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WESLACO – Certain crimes will be treated and punished as higher offenses during this COVID19 crisis in the state of Texas.

According to the Penal Code section 12.50, certain crimes committed in an area declared a disaster will earn a higher degree of penalty.

Assault, arson, robbery, burglary, burglary of vehicles, criminal trespass and theft will be "increased to the punishment prescribed for the next higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed in an area that was, at the time of the offense subject to a declaration of a state of disaster," according to the Texas Penal Code.

That could mean some misdemeanors become felonies. This law is meant to discourage crimes spurred by the circumstances of a disaster, explained attorney Carlos A. Garcia. "We're under a disaster declaration now. We don't want for individuals to go in and start ransacking stores or start ransacking people's homes in order to get supplies or things that they may be in need of."

On March 13, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster due to COVID19.


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