Abuse of Corpse: Texas Penal Code §42.08

Texas Criminal Law

The Abuse of Corpse crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you disturb, damage, remove or mistreat a corpse. The police also have a right to arrest you if they believe you are selling or buying a corpse. Learn more detailed information about the Abuse of Corpse offense below.

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Abuse of Corpse is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 9 “Offenses Against Public Order and Decency”, Chapter 42 “Disorderly Conduct and Related Offenses.”

What is the current Texas law about Abuse of Corpse?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Abuse of Corpse in Penal Code Section §42.08 as follows:[1]

(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.

How can I be charged with Abuse of Corpse?

You can be charged with Abuse of Corpse if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 42.08(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Abuse of Corpse?

Effective until September 1, 2017, a conviction for Abuse of Corpse was always punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[2] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4000 and jail time of up to one year. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

However, with the passage of S.B. 524, 85th Legislature, effective September 1, 2017, a conviction for Abuse of Corpse is by default a state jail felony, unless the offense was a conviction under subsection (a)(5).[3]

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §42.08^2. Texas Penal Code §42.08(b), as amended by S.B. 524, 85th Texas Legislature, Section 1, effective September 1, 2017^3. Texas Penal Code §42.08(a)(5).

(b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony, except that an offense under Subsection (a)(5) is a Class A misdemeanor.

Bolded language added by S.B. 524, effective September 1, 2017.

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