Texas Cemetery Law

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This is an excerpt from "Desecration of Historic Cemeteries: A Brief Assessment by the Texas Historical Commission"
(This is an excellent read for anyone who has concerns about the increased level of cemetery-related crimes.)

   House Bill 1012, passed by the 79th Legislature, removed the provision concerning prosecution for desecration from the Health and Safety Code, where it was a class C misdemeanor, and placed it under Criminal Mischief, Penal Code 28.03 (f), which states:
   "f) An offense under this section is a state jail felony if the damage or destruction is inflicted on a place of worship or human burial, a public monument, or a community center that provides medical, social, or educational programs and the amount of the pecuniary loss to real property or to tangible personal property is less than $20,000."

Chapter 28 of the Texas Penal Code can be found here;

There are also currently efforts to amend Section 42.08 of the Texas Penal Code (Abuse of Corpses) to raise the penalties for conviction from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony charge.

Texas Penal Code, Chapter 42 (Disorderly Conduct), Section 8 (Abuse of a Corpse)

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, without legal authority, knowingly:
   (1)  disinters, disturbs, damages, dissects, in whole or in part, carries away, or treats in an offensive manner a human corpse;
   (2)  conceals a human corpse knowing it to be illegally disinterred;
   (3)  sells or buys a human corpse or in any way traffics in a human corpse;
   (4)  transmits or conveys, or procures to be transmitted or conveyed, a human corpse to a place outside the state;  or
   (5)  vandalizes, damages, or treats in an offensive manner the space in which a human corpse has been interred or otherwise permanently laid to rest.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c)  In this section, "human corpse" includes:
   (1)  any portion of a human corpse;
   (2)  the cremated remains of a human corpse;  or
   (3)  any portion of the cremated remains of a human corpse.

(d)  If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or both sections.

(e)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor:
   (1)  as a member or agent of a cemetery organization, removed or damaged anything that had been placed in or on any portion of the organization's cemetery in violation of the rules of the organization;  or
   (2)  removed anything:
      (A)  placed in the cemetery in violation of the rules of the cemetery organization;  or
      (B)  placed in the cemetery by or with the cemetery organization's consent but that, in the organization's judgment, had become wrecked, unsightly, or dilapidated.

(f)  In this section, "cemetery" and "cemetery organization" have the meanings assigned by Section 711.001, Health and Safety Code


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