Prohibited Camping: Texas Penal Code §48.05

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Prohibited Camping law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you are camping in a public place without the effective consent of the authority that manages the public space.

The legislature passed this law in response to a growing homeless enforcement problem across the state. This law allows state-level prosecution for “camping” in public places and has been criticized for criminalizing homelessness.

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The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 48.05. The legislature did not update this criminal statute in 2023. In fact, this law has not been substantively amended since its enactment in 2021.

The Penal Code codifies the Texas Prohibited Camping law under Title 10 “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, And Morals,” Chapter 48 “Conduct Affecting Public Health.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Prohibited Camping below.

What is the current Texas law about Prohibited Camping?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Prohibited Camping in Penal Code Section §48.05 as follows:[1]

(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly camps in a public place without the effective consent of the officer or agency having the legal duty or authority to manage the public place.

This is a new law, effective September 1, 2021.[2]

How can I be charged with a Prohibited Camping offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Prohibited Camping in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 48.05 as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Prohibited Camping in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, Prohibited Camping charges have a two-year limitations period.[3]

What is the penalty for a Texas Prohibited Camping offense?

Prohibited Camping in Texas is punished as a Class C misdemeanor.[4]

Can you get probation for Prohibited Camping in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Prohibited Camping, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[5]

Note, however, that 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.[6]

What level of crime is Prohibited Camping in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Prohibited Camping as a Class C misdemeanor.

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

^1. Texas Penal Code §48.05. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. HB 1925, 87th Texas Legislature (RS), Section 1^3. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^4. Texas Penal Code §48.05(e)^5. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^6. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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