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reviewed in an in camera proceeding by the court.

SB 316 by Sen. Hinojosa:

This bill amends article 26.04 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and requires the

court to give priority to appointing the public defender’s office in court appointments for indigent defendants.

The bill does allow the court to appoint an attorney outside the public defender’s office if:

1. The court has reason to appoint other counsel; or

2. A managed assigned counsel program also exists in the county and the attorney will be appointed

under that program.

SB 1517 by Sen. Seliger:

This bill amends the Code of Criminal Procedure and could require a county to

appoint counsel for an indigent inmate arrested on a warrant from another county. The bill sets out time

frames based on population.

HB 1396 by Rep. Workman:

This bill became the criminal law “Christmas Tree” bill. The bill amends

sections in both the penal code and the code of criminal procedure.

This bill amends Code of Criminal Procedure Article 18.0215, dealing with cell phone search warrants. It

clarifies that a peace officer cannot search phone without consent or warrant. The bill further sets out that

only a judge in the same judicial district as the law enforcement agency seeking the warrant or where the

phone is located can issue the warrant. The bill further sets out additional grounds to be met before the

court can issue the warrant.

HB1396 also amends article 32A.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure concerning trial priority. The new

amendment states that cases with an alleged victim under 14 years of age shall be given priority over other

cases on the docket.

The bill further addresses statutory construction in criminal cases. The new law states that ambiguity in

penalty or element of offense shall be construed in actor’s favor. Further, ambiguity is matter of law and shall

be decided by the judge.

Finally, the bill amends several sections of the Penal Code and increases the theft value ladders: The new

classifications are:

1. Under $100: Class C Misdemeanor.

2. $100 to $750: Class B Misdemeanor

3. $750 to $2,500: Class A Misdemeanor

4. $2,500 to $30,000: State Jail Felony

5. $30,000 to $150,000: Third Degree Felony

6. $150,000 to $300,000: Second Degree Felony

7. Over $300,000: First Degree Felony

HB 1546 by Rep Allen:

This bill amends article 42 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It changes how the

trial court grants State Jail Felony Diligent Participation credit. The new law basically gives the sentencing

judge two options.

The first option is the judge can make a finding at sentencing that the defendant is presumptively entitled to

the diligent participation credit. It would then be up to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to determine

how much of the 20% credit the defendant would be entitled to, depending on the inmate’s disciplinary

history, if any, and the days the inmate participates in work or programs. This finding would have to be made

on the judgment. Once that finding is made, the judge would not have any further input as to how much, if

any, credit the defendant would receive.

The second option is for the judge not tomake the presumptive finding on the record at the time of sentencing.

If no finding is made, then the Texas Department of Criminal Justice would report to the sentencing judge at

least 30 days prior to the inmate having completed 80% of his or her sentence. The sentencing judge would

then have 30 days to determine how much, if any, credit to give.

Effective for crimes committed on or after

September 1, 2015.