Destruction of Flag

Texas Criminal Law

The Destruction of Flag crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you intentionally burn or damage the flags of the United States or Texas. Learn more detailed information about the Destruction of Flag offense below.

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Destruction of Flag 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 Destruction of Flag?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Destruction of Flag in Penal Code Section §42.11 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly damages, defaces, mutilates, or burns the flag of the United States or the State of Texas.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This law has been held unconstitutional by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court of criminal appeals in the State of Texas.[2] The United States Supreme Court held a similar law to be unconstitutional back in 1989.[3] So this law should no longer be enforced, even though it is still on the books.

How can I be charged with Destruction of Flag?

You could theoretically be charged with Destruction of Flag if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 42.11(a) as described in the section above have been met. However, because the statute is unconstitutional,[4] no one should be charged with this offense at this time.

What is the punishment for Destruction of Flag

A conviction for Destruction of Flag is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[5] 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

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §42.11^2. State v. Johnson, 475 S.W.3d 860, 865 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015); see also News Coverage^3. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)^4. Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)^5. Texas Penal Code §42.11(d)

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