SB 900

85(R) - 2017
Senate State Affairs
Senate State Affairs
Mandatory Community Supervision

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Joan Huffman

Bill Caption

Relating to enhanced penalties for certain family violence offenses; imposing court costs.

Bill Analysis

This bill would increase the penalty for repeat offenders of family violence, dating violence, and household violence. If this bill passes, there would be a penalty enhancement for those who commit a Class A misdemeanor or higher, and commit a violent offense against a person, and /or commit an offense and there is an affirmative finding of family violence. If they have previously been convicted two or more times of these offenses they would be subject to a second-degree felony. For the purposes of this bill, a plea deal for deferred adjudication community supervision would suffice as a prior conviction.

If a person is placed on community supervision or deferred adjudication community supervision for this offense, the judge shall require the defendant to submit to a term of confinement of not less than 90 days.

In addition, this bill would require defendant to pay $500 upon conviction of the aforementioned crime and the proceeds would be deposited in a fund that funds family violence protection programs.

This bill would also modify the penalty for assault. If passed, an assault offense against a spouse would be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days. To qualify for this penalty, the crime must be related to family, household, or dating violence, and it would have to be committed in the physical presence within the hearing of a person who is younger than 15 years old, and the offender would have to have knowledge or reason to know that the young person was present at the time of the assault. If a person is placed on community supervision, or deferred adjudication community supervision for this crime, they would be required to submit to confinement for not less than five days as a condition of their penalty.

Vote Recommendation Notes

While we are not inherently opposed to some sentencing enhancements for crimes of family violence, we have a number of objections to this particular way of addressing the issue. Rather than serving as a deterrent to decrease the number of family violence cases, this bill is likely to simply increase incarceration which will in turn raise costs without having actually solved the problem. This would bind the hands of judges by requiring them to issue sentences based on arbitrary guidelines rather than considering the totality of the facts of each case on its own merits. (This runs counter to the direction the state has been taking recently with respect to mandatory minimum sentences.) Finally, it is questionable whether some of the provisions, such as adding a sentencing enhancement based on the age of a witness to the crime, are proportional to the actual offense. 

For these reasons we oppose SB 900.