Times are changing as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting almost all of us in some way or another.
Not only has the pandemic caused great health concerns, criminal law attorneys are seeing that it’s also created many security and safety concerns as well.
As law enforcement attempts to deal with increasing crime rates in some areas, one message should be clear: if you commit a crime in Texas, you could face stiffer penalties.
Crime Rates Rise During Times of State of Emergency
Criminal defense lawyers know that unfortunately, it is common to see crime rates rise during a State of Emergency time frame.
When events such as natural disasters or something like a pandemic occur and people become more vulnerable, there always seem to be others out there looking to take advantage of this.
It makes life more challenging for everyone and harder for law enforcement to keep the public safe when the police are already dealing with enough other concerns.
Texas Penalties for Some Common Crimes Now Higher
In recognition of this trend, the state of Texas has increased the penalties of many common crimes that tend to increase in prevalence during times like these.
Criminal defense attorneys are aware that those committing some of these crimes are subject to harsher punishments if convicted.
Especially significant is the fact that less serious crimes that are usually considered misdemeanors may now be charged as felonies when someone takes advantage of the current pandemic situation and preys on others.
Applicable fines may be increased significantly depending on the crime, time in jail may be added or increased, and other penalties may apply, all as a means to discourage those thinking about committing these crimes during stressful times.
Some Common Crimes With Increased Penalties
Theft and robbery are the most prevalent crimes committed during times like these and both are now subject to higher than usual penalties in Texas.
Additional crimes that also fall into this category while under a State of Emergency include assault, arson, criminal trespassing, and hate crimes committed against individuals due to their race, religion, sexual identity, or otherwise.
Online identity theft is yet another crime that will bring much stiffer penalties when committed during a period of emergency, with penalties increasing from a maximum of 180 days in jail to between 2 and 10 years.
Don't Commit A Crime During the COVID-19 Pandemic!
In summary, the message that criminal law attorneys, law enforcement, and others within the state of Texas highlight is that while it is never right to commit a crime, the worst time to do it is during a pandemic or State of Emergency.
With many people facing financial hardship making theft and robbery crimes likely to increase because of it, know that you may face harsher charges and penalties as well as end up with a permanent criminal record for something as seemingly insignificant as petty theft.
When the public at large is more vulnerable such as it is today during the COVID-19 pandemic with many businesses closed people of all walks of life greatly affected, preying upon them is viewed more seriously and will be punished accordingly.
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520