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Houston Criminal Defense Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 2.273

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal law.



Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 2.273, pertains to the release of a child by a law enforcement officer who has taken custody of the child under Section 262.104 of the Family Code. The law outlines the specific entities and individuals to whom a child can be released, as well as the steps the law enforcement officer must follow before releasing the child to a person authorized by law. Here are the key points:

  1. Authorized Entities for Child Release: A law enforcement officer can release the child to the following entities:

    • A residential child-care facility licensed by the Department of Family and Protective Services.

    • A juvenile probation department.

    • The Department of Family and Protective Services.

    • Any other person authorized by law to take possession of the child.

  2. Verification and Checks: Before releasing the child to a person other than a governmental entity, the law enforcement officer must:

    • Verify through the National Crime Information Center that the child is not a missing child.

    • Conduct searches on relevant National Crime Information Center databases to ensure that the person receiving the child:

      • Does not have a protective order against them.

      • Is not a registered sex offender (unless the person is the child's parent or guardian and there are no restrictions on contact with the child).

      • Obtain any other information deemed relevant by the Department of Family and Protective Services to protect the child's welfare or reflect the responsibility of the person receiving the child.

  3. Texas Abuse Hotline Check: The law enforcement officer must contact the Texas Abuse Hotline of the Department of Family and Protective Services to determine if the person receiving the child is listed in the registry as someone who has abused or neglected a child.

  4. Age Verification: The law enforcement officer must verify that the person receiving the child is at least 18 years old.

  5. Record Keeping: The officer must maintain a record of the child's placement, including:

    • Identifying information about the child (name or pseudonyms).

    • Name and address of the person receiving the child.

Sec. 262.104 of the Family Code, outlines the conditions under which an authorized representative of the Department of Family and Protective Services, a law enforcement officer, or a juvenile probation officer can take possession of a child in an emergency situation without a court order. The law specifies various scenarios where such actions are permissible:

  1. Immediate Danger to Child's Health or Safety: The child can be taken into custody without a court order if there is personal knowledge or corroborated information indicating an immediate danger to the child's physical health or safety. This includes cases where there is reasonable belief of danger based on direct observation or verified information.

  2. Sexual Abuse or Trafficking: The child can be taken into custody without a court order if there is personal knowledge or corroborated information suggesting the child has been a victim of sexual abuse or trafficking under specified sections of the Penal Code.

  3. Parent's Controlled Substance Use: If a parent or person in possession of the child is using a controlled substance defined by the Health and Safety Code, and this use poses an immediate danger to the child's physical health or safety, the child can be taken into custody without a court order.

  4. Methamphetamine-Related Premises: If there is personal knowledge or corroborated information indicating that the parent or person with custody of the child has allowed the child to remain on premises used for manufacturing methamphetamine, the child can be taken into custody without a court order.

The law emphasizes that a medical professional's opinion alone, without a physical examination of the child, cannot be the sole basis for taking the child into custody.

This law was initially added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., and has been subsequently amended by various legislative acts. The amendments have clarified and expanded the circumstances under which a child can be taken into custody without a court order in emergency situations involving potential harm or danger to the child.


Art. 2.273. RELEASE OF CHILD BY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER.


(a) A law enforcement officer who takes possession of a child under Section 262.104, Family Code, may release the child to:


(1) a residential child-care facility licensed by the Department of Family and Protective Services under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code, if the facility is authorized by the department to take possession of the child;


(2) a juvenile probation department;


(3) the Department of Family and Protective Services; or


(4) any other person authorized by law to take possession of the child.


(b) Before a law enforcement officer may release a child to a person authorized by law to take possession of the child other than a governmental entity, the officer shall:


(1) verify with the National Crime Information Center that the child is not a missing child;


(2) search the relevant databases of the National Crime Information Center system, including those pertaining to protection orders, historical protection orders, warrants, sex offender registries, and persons on supervised release to:

(A) verify that the person to whom the child is being released:

(i) does not have a protective order issued against the person; and

(ii) is not registered as a sex offender unless the person is the child's parent or guardian and there are no restrictions regarding the person's contact with the child; and

(B) obtain any other information the Department of Family and Protective Services considers:

(i) relevant to protect the welfare of the child; or

(ii) reflective of the responsibility of the person to whom the child is being released;


(3) call the Department of Family and Protective Services Texas Abuse Hotline to determine whether the person to whom the child is being released is listed in the registry as a person who abused or neglected a child;


(4) verify that the person to whom the child is being released is at least 18 years of age; and


(5) maintain a record regarding the child's placement, including:

(A) identifying information about the child, including the child's name or pseudonyms; and

(B) the name and address of the person to whom the child is being released.


Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 926 (S.B. 1571), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017.


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