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What Crimes are Enhanced During a State of Disaster

by Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian

Are Penalties Worse if I’m Charged with a Crime During the COVID-19 State of Disaster?

Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in Texas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13, 2020.

For crimes committed during a state of disaster, punishment levels for certain offenses are increased to the next higher category for that offense.

For example, if a Class A  assault charge would normally be punished as a misdemeanor (0 – 1year in jail and up to $4,000 fine) then it would be increased to a State Jail Felony  (180 days – 2 years in state jail and up to $10,000 fine) if it is committed during the time of the declared disaster.

According to Texas Penal Code §12.50, in the case of a disaster declaration, the following crimes are increased by one degree if committed during the disaster:

  • Assault
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Burglary of coin-operated machines
  • Burglary of vehicles
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Theft

TPC 12.50 is limited by the following provisions:


For the offenses of Assault, Burglary of Coin-operated/Coin Collection Machines, Burglary of Vehicles, Criminal Trespass or Theft, if the offense committed would normally be punished as a Class A misdemeanor, then during the emergency declaration the minimum term of confinement is increased from 0 to 180 days in a county jail.

For the offenses of Arson, Burglary, and Criminal Trespass, if the offense committed would normally be punished as a First-Degree Felony, there is no increased enhancement.

Speak to a Criminal Lawyer in Collin County Today

If you or a loved one find yourself with criminal charges during this uncertain time, please reach out to Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian. Our team is available 24/7 to take calls and assist you. You can call (972) 369-0577 or send us an online message. One of our Collin County criminal defense lawyers will connect with you to assess your situation and come up with a plan for your defense.

Avoid delay. The sooner we get to work defending you, the better our chances of obtaining a favorable resolution.