The Facts

* Occupations Code Section 165.151 makes it a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail) to violate a rule of a professional licensing board covered under this chapter.

* Parks and Wildlife Code Section 66.023 makes it a third degree felony (punishable by up to 10 years in prison) to lie in a fishing tournament in which the prize money is valued at over $10,000.

* Chapter 26.3574(s)(16) of the Water Code makes it a second degree felony (punishable by up to 20 years in prison) not to “remit any fees collected by any person required to hold a permit under this section.”


* Refrain from creating new criminal offenses, especially those regulating non-fraudulent business activities.

* Avoid licensing new occupations, and revise laws to eliminate criminal penalties associated with many occupational licensing violations.

* Do not criminalize voluntary economic transactions using either civil or criminal law. 

* Repeal excessive and unnecessary offenses and narrow the scope of overly broad offenses. Eliminate criminal offenses based on voluntary economic transactions involving legal products and services. (Fraudulent transactions, meaning those that involve coercion, would not be included in this category.)

* Ensure that an appropriate culpable mental state is included for all non-traffic offenses and that it applies to each element of the offense.

* Strongly codify the Rule of Lenity, a rule of statutory interpretation instructing a court to resolve in favor of the defendant any ambiguities concerning whether the business-related conduct at issue is criminally prohibited.

* Narrow the scope of catch-all statutes allowing agencies to create rules that carry criminal penalties. Offenses should be limited to statutory violations, and non-compliance with rules should be enforced by civil penalties and the revocation of permits and licenses.

* Eliminate the possibility of jail time for first-time conviction of a regulatory misdemeanor, unless the person does not comply with the fine or probation conditions.

* Require that each bill creating an offense specify in the caption and improve fiscal notes so that they state the full cost of the bill, including prosecutorial and judicial expenditures and the appointment of counsel for indigent defendants.

* Amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow for citation without arrest for additional misdemeanors and prohibit arrest for regulatory Class C misdemeanors, unless the defendant does not respond to a court summons.