HB 574

85(R) - 2017
House Criminal Jurisprudence
House Criminal Jurisprudence
Criminal Procedure
Law Enforcement

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Positive


Senfronia Thompson

Bill Caption

Relating to a limitation on the authority to arrest a person for certain misdemeanors punishable by a fine only.

Fiscal Notes

No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

This bill would require the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to consult with law enforcement agencies to create a policy regarding the issuance of citations for misdemeanor offenses, including traffic offenses, that are punishable by a fine only. This bill would require law enforcement agencies to maintain a record of warrantless arrests for misdemeanor offenses for at least one year.

In addition, officers would be prohibited from arresting an offender who commits one or more offense punishable by a fine only unless there is probable cause to believe that that the failure to arrest the offender creates a clear and immediate danger to the offender or the public. A person may also be arrested if the failure to arrest them would result in continued breach of the public peace, or if the offender will not appear in court in accordance with the citation; a person who is intoxicated in public would still be subject to arrest. This bill specifies that an unpaid fine arising from the commission of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine only would not constitute probable cause to believe that the offender will fail to appear in court. 

Vote Recommendation Notes

While some crimes are worthy of arrest, arresting people for low level fine-only offenses is wasteful for taxpayers and distracting from the duties of peace officers. We support HB 574 because it would allow law enforcement resources to be used more efficiently, thereby satisfying our liberty principle of limited government. The bill also supports individual liberty by allowing people to take care of certain fine-only offenses without suffering the needless and unwarranted disruption of going through an arrest.

Organizations Supporting

American Civil Liberties Union of Texas
Mental Health America of Texas
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
Texas Appleseed
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Organizations Opposed

Sheriffs' Association of Texas
Texas Municipal Police Association