AUSTIN – On the closing days of the 84th session, the House and the Senate overwhelmingly adopted the Conference Report on HB 1396, which codifies the rule of lenity, a long held canon of statutory interpretation that instructs a judge, as a matter of law, to interpret objective ambiguities in criminal law in favor of the defendant. HB 1396 also creates a commission to study potentially unnecessary criminal penalties for activities not traditionally criminalized; codifies the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Riley v. California, which states that law enforcement must obtain a warrant in order to access a telephone; places theft value thresholds in line with modern-day inflation values; and provides docket preference to cases where the victim is under the age of 14.
TPPF’s Center for Effective Justice Policy Analyst Greg Glod issued the following statement:
“The Texas Public Policy Foundation is thrilled that that the Texas Legislature nearly unanimously passed this comprehensive reform package,” said Glod. “The overwhelming majority of lawmakers voting in favor of HB 1396 is further evidence that Texas has committed to conservative principles of criminal justice reform that have already seen great success in this state and across the country. HB 1396 will improve public safety and preserve many personal liberties all Texans enjoy.”
Greg Glod is a policy analyst with the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.