by Jenny Smiley

On February 28, 2020, the DAYL CLE committed hosted “After Hours – Law You Can’t (or Won’t) Research at Work.” Panelists Judge Audrey Moorehead, Judge Ashley Wysocki, and Paul Saputo presented on (1) recent updates to laws concerning electronic visual media and their implications in criminal and family law and (1) HB 1325, which makes hemp (and only hemp!) legal in Texas.

The five takeaways from the CLE were:

  1. Revenge Porn – Texas Penal Code §§ 21.19, 21.16 concern the unlawful transmission of electronic visual material, and one panelist believed that the laws could face overbroad challenges. There is also a possibility of more civil causes of action regarding the transmission of photos that meet the statute’s requirements. The impact on family law has been that parties have been using these statutes as a tactic to prevent photos from entering into evidence.
  2. Indecent assault (Texas Penal Code § 22.012) is a new crime involving the touching of or with intimate parts. It is a Class A Misdemeanor, which means that the punishment is more severe than simple assault, which is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas. There is not a sex offender registry requirement for violation of this statute.
  3. Service by publication – Recent updates to the Texas Family Code allow service to be posted to the Public Information Network. Also, judges are allowing crafted service by social media when parties ask for substituted service.
  4. Protective order registry – The statewide public protective order registry is live.
  5. Marijuana – House Bill 1325 made hemp legal in Texas. Marijuana is still illegal in Texas. This change has caused a decrease in charges for marijuana offenses and a decrease in prosecution of marijuana crimes because the substance cannot be accurately tested. Since marijuana is still illegal, the family court will consider the use/possession/crimes involving marijuana when deciding the best interests of the child.