Terrorism: Texas Penal Code §76.02

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Terrorism law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you committed or conspired to commit certain offenses (described below) with the intent to intimidate the public or influence public policy or the government.

The Texas Legislature passed a bill that enacted this offense among several different terror-related offenses in 2023. The legislature intended these new state-level terrorism crimes to target “terrorists” who knowingly used terror tactics and people who provided material support to the “terrorists” to “terrorist organizations.”

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The Texas legislature codified the new Terrorism criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 76.02, and it went into effect, along with all of the new terrorism laws, September 1, 2023.

Convictions for any of the new offenses result in a penalty classification-level increase from the underlying offense and mandatory minimum sentences in certain circumstances. In addition to the new criminal laws, the legislature also created a “Terrorist Offender Registry,” similar to the sex offender registry.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Terrorism law under Title 12 “Terrorism,” Chapter 76 “Terroristic Offenses.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Terrorism below.

What is the current Texas law about Terrorism?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Terrorism in Penal Code Section §76.02 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) commits or conspires to commit an offense under:

(A) Chapter 19;

(B) Section (C) Section (D) Section 20A.02;

(E) Section 22.02;

(F) Section 22.021;

(G) Section 22.05, if punishable as a felony;

(H) Section 22.07, if punishable as a felony;

(I) Section 22.09;

(J) Section 28.02;

(K) Section 28.07, if punishable as a felony;

(L) Section 29.03;

(M) Section 38.152, if punishable as a felony; or

(N) Section 46.08; and

(2) commits or conspires to commit that offense with the intent to:

(A) intimidate or coerce the public or a substantial group of the public; or

(B) influence, by intimidation or coercion, the policy, conduct, or activities of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States.

The 88th Texas Legislature created this law in 2023,[2] effective September 1, 2023.[3]

How can I be charged with a Terrorism offense in Texas?

The state can charge you with Terrorism in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 76.02 as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Terrorism in Texas?

Misdemeanor level Terrorism charges have a two-year limitations period.[4] Felony-level offenses likely have at least a three-year limitations period,[5] but the underlying offense may alter the analysis. Because this is a new law, it’s unclear how the limitations period calculations will be interpreted.

What is the penalty for a Texas Terrorism offense?

The statute classifies the Terrorism offense as one category higher than the most serious offense listed in Subsection (a) that was committed or conspired to be committed.[6] However, Class A misdemeanors do not turn into felonies. Instead, Terrorism convictions where the underlying offense is a Class A misdemeanor will carry a 180-day mandatory jail sentence in lieu of a classification increase.[7] Likewise, first degree felonies do not turn into capital felonies. A Terrorism case with a base offense at the first degree felony level will carry a minimum 15 year prison sentence.[8]

Can you get probation for Terrorism in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure does not specifically disallow judges from accepting deferred adjudication plea deals for these offenses.[9] And neither judges nor juries are specifically disallowed from granting and recommending community supervision (probation).[10]

However, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[11] 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.[12]

What level of crime is Terrorism in Texas?

The penalty for a Terrorism conviction ranges from a misdemeanor to the highest felonies. The specific classification is based on the underlying offense.

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

^1. Texas Penal Code §76.02. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. SB 1518, 88th Texas Legislature (RS), Section 5^3. SB 1518, 88th Texas Legislature (RS), Section 6^4. Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^5. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^6. Texas Penal Code §76.02(b)^7. §76.02(b)(1), Texas Penal Code^8. §76.02(b)(2), Texas Penal Code^9. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.102^10. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054 & Art. 42A.056^11. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and Art. 42A.056(1), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^12 Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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