Texas

(information last updated Fall 2017)

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  In order to commit criminal trespass, a person must “ha[ve] notice that [her] entry was forbidden.”  Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 30.05.

Other Provisions:

Trespass against a “critical infrastructure facility” or a superfund site carries a heightened penalty.  Tex. Penal Code § 30.05(d)(3).  Critical infrastructure facility is defined as “a chemical manufacturing facility; . . . a refinery; . . . an electric power generation facility . . . or distribution facility; a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station; . . . a natural gas transmission compressor station; . . . a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility; . . . a . . . freight transportation facility; . . . [or] a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas[.]”  Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 30.05(7).

Drone Laws:

Law:

“A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:

     (1) operates an unmanned aircraft over a critical infrastructure facility and the unmanned aircraft is not higher than 400 feet above ground level;

     (2) allows an unmanned aircraft to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility; or

     (3) allows an unmanned aircraft to come within a distance of a critical infrastructure facility that is close enough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.”  Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 423.0045.

 

“Critical infrastructure facility” includes, but is not limited to facilities that manufacture, store, process, treat, or transmit chemicals, oil, gas, electricity, and water “if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden:”; or “any portion of an aboveground oil, gas, or chemical pipeline that is enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders.”  Id.

Exception:

The prohibition “does not apply to [drone use] that is committed by: . . . (9) an operator of an unmanned aircraft that is being used for a commercial purpose, if the operator is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct operations over that airspace.”  Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 423.0045.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:

    (1) constitutes an offense under Section 42.07, or that the actor knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening:

        (A) bodily injury or death for the other person;

        (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship; or

        (C) that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property;

    (2)  causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and

    (3) would cause a reasonable person to fear:

        (A) fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself;

        (B) fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship; or

        (C) fear that an offense will be committed against the person’s property; or

        (D) feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.”  Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 42.072.

Civil Law:

“A defendant is liable, as provided by this chapter, to a claimant for damages arising from stalking of the claimant by the defendant.”  Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.002.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (CEQ) may use “information provided by [a] private individual” if the executive director judges it to be “of sufficient value and credibility to warrant the initiation of an enforcement action.”  30 Tex. Admin. Code § 70.4.

Prohibitive by Effect:

“[I]f [CEQ] relies on any physical or sampling data submitted by an individual to prove one or more elements of an enforcement case, such data must have been collected or gathered in accordance with relevant agency protocols.  The individual submitting the physical or sampling data must be willing to submit a sworn affidavit demonstrating that the individual followed relevant agency protocols when collecting the data.”  30 Tex. Admin. Code § 70.4.

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that the claim “is not groundless.”  Tex. R. Civ. P. 13.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.”  TX R EVID Rule 901.

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard is instructive.  See E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549, 557 (Tex. 1995).

Discussion

Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.