The legislation would have made it illegal to photograph a police officer with 25 feet.
Fort Worth, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/21/2015 --In March of 2013, an interesting bill was introduced to the Texas legislature. House Bill (HB) 2918 would have made filming a police officer, or taking a police officer's photograph, a crime if done within 25 feet. Introduced by house republican Jason Villalba, the bill raised eyebrows across the state. In April 2015, Villalba announced that he was placing the bill on the backburner for the time being.
The Language of the Bill
The language of the bill specifically read that a person would be prohibited from, "filming, recording, photographing, or documenting the officer within 25 feet," and that that would extend to 100 feet if "carrying a handgun." Failure to comply with the 25 feet or 100 feet rule would be a class B misdemeanor. A class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000, and a jail term not to exceed 180 days in Texas. There would seem to be a fine line between exercising your right to photograph a police officer and interfering with a peace officer's public duties. Interference with public duties (Sec. 38.15.) is explained more in detail here: http://www.criminalattorneyfortworth.com/interference-with-public-duties/.
The media and reporters would have been exempt from the stipulations of the bill.
The Status of House Bill 2918
Despite Villalba's passionate belief that the bill would protect police officers, Villalbla recently announced that he would be scrapping the bill for now. The decision came after an array of negative commentary about the bill, particularly from civil rights groups.
What's more, the bill also was introduced at a time when police departments in other states across the nation were making big moves to protect citizens' rights to document police activity. Police departments in Los Angeles recently agreed to train its police officers about the right of citizens to document police, and a police department in Atlanta, Georgia recently had federal sanctions imposed for its violation of a woman's civil right to photograph police, as well as its failure to make policy changes.
It is unlikely that the legislation will be reintroduced in the near future – citizens will still maintain the right to document the activity of police officers throughout the state.
When Civil Rights Become Crimes
Attempting to limit citizens' civil rights is dangerous and scary. If convicted of a crime that was a civil rights violation, or if civil rights were violated during the arrest, action needs to be sought immediately. Any person who has been charged with a crime, or who has had their civil rights infringed upon, should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
About THE FULGHAM LAW FIRM P.C.
THE FULGHAM LAW FIRM P.C. is a criminal defense firm that has earned an outstanding reputation as an advocated for the accused. Located in Fort Worth, Texas, our criminal defense attorneys specialize in a variety of defense types. For media inquires, contact us at 817-877-3030