Improper Contact with Victim: Texas Penal Code §38.111

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Improper Contact with Victim law prohibits contacting any person who accuses you of a “registrable” sex-related offense if you are confined in a correctional facility and the director of the facility doesn’t have written permission from the accuser or, if the accuser is under 17, the accuser’s guardian.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 38.111. The legislature did not update this law in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since 2019, when the scope of the law was expanded by removing the limitation that it only applied to accusers under 17 years old.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Improper Contact with Victim law under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 38 “Obstructing Governmental Operation.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Improper Contact with Victim below.

What is the current Texas law about Improper Contact with Victim?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Improper Contact with Victim in Penal Code Section §38.111 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, while confined in a correctional facility after being charged with or convicted of an offense listed in Article 62.001(5), Code of Criminal Procedure, contacts by letter, telephone, or any other means, either directly or through a third party, a victim of the offense or a member of the victim’s family, if the director of the correctional facility has not, before the person makes contact with the victim:

(1) received written and dated consent to the contact from:

(A) the victim, if the victim was 17 years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense for which the person is confined; or

(B) if the victim was younger than 17 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense for which the person is confined:

(i) a parent of the victim;

(ii) a legal guardian of the victim;

(iii) the victim, if the victim is 17 years of age or older at the time of giving the consent; or

(iv) a member of the victim’s family who is 17 years of age or older; and

(2) provided the person with a copy of the consent.

A very important exception to this offense (technically it is an “affirmative defense”) is that your attorney may make contact with the accuser in the course of representing you in a criminal proceeding.[2]

What changes did the legislature make to this law in 2019?

In 2019, the legislature removed an element of the offense. Prior to 2019, this offense applied only to victims who were under 17 years old. Effective September 1, 2019,[3] this law is no longer limited to people under 17.[4]

How can I be charged with an Improper Contact with Victim offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Improper Contact with Victim in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 38.111(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Improper Contact with Victim in Texas?

Misdemeanor level Improper Contact with Victim charges have a two-year limitations period.[5] Felony-level offenses have a three-year limitations period.[6]

What is the penalty for a Texas Improper Contact with Victim offense?

A conviction for Improper Contact with Victim is punished as a Class A misdemeanor,[7] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year, if the Article 62.001(5) charge underlying the offense has not resulted in a conviction at the time the contact was made.

If you were convicted of a felony Article 62.001(5) offense at the time the contact was made, then a conviction for Improper Contact with Victim is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree,[8] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Improper Contact with Victim in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Improper Contact with Victim, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[9]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[10] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[11]

What level of crime is Improper Contact with Victim in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Improper Contact with Victim as either a Class A misdemeanor or third degree felony, depending on the circumstances.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §38.111. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. Texas Penal Code §38.111(c)^3. HB 1343, 86th Texas Legislature (RS), Sections 7 & 8^4. HB 1343, 86th Texas Legislature (RS), Section 5^5. Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^6. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^7. Texas Penal Code §38.111(d)^8. Texas Penal Code §38.111(d)^9. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^10. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^11. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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