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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney - Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law


Art. 2.13 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines the duties and powers of peace officers in the state. The law defines the responsibilities of peace officers, including their authority to prevent or suppress crime, execute lawful processes, notify magistrates of offenses, and arrest offenders with or without warrants. Additionally, the law requires peace officers to take possession of children in certain situations, execute emergency detention orders issued by the Texas Civil Commitment Office, and conduct immigration status inquiries under specific circumstances.


One significant aspect of Art. 2.13 is the limitation it places on peace officers' ability to inquire about the nationality or immigration status of crime victims or witnesses during criminal investigations. Under subsection (d), peace officers may only ask about immigration status if necessary to investigate the offense or provide the victim or witness with information about federal visas that protect individuals who assist law enforcement. Subsection (e) provides an exception to this limitation if the peace officer has probable cause to believe that the victim or witness has engaged in specific criminal conduct.


The duty to preserve the peace and enforce the law is a fundamental obligation of peace officers in Texas. The language of Art. 2.13 outlines the specific duties and powers of peace officers and provides guidance on how they should conduct their activities within their jurisdiction. Peace officers should be aware of the provisions of this law and the limitations it places on their authority to inquire about immigration status during criminal investigations. Overall, Art. 2.13 serves as an essential legal framework that helps ensure that law enforcement officers fulfill their duties while protecting the rights of individuals in Texas.



Art. 2.13. DUTIES AND POWERS.


(a) It is the duty of every peace officer to preserve the peace within the officer's jurisdiction. To effect this purpose, the officer shall use all lawful means.


(b) The officer shall: (1) in every case authorized by the provisions of this Code, interfere without warrant to prevent or suppress crime; (2) execute all lawful process issued to the officer by any magistrate or court; (3) give notice to some magistrate of all offenses committed within the officer's jurisdiction, where the officer has good reason to believe there has been a violation of the penal law; and (4) arrest offenders without warrant in every case where the officer is authorized by law, in order that they may be taken before the proper magistrate or court and be tried.


(c) It is the duty of every officer to take possession of a child under Article 63.009(g). (Subsection (a)(1) and (a)(2) of Article 63.009 pertain to situations in which a court orders the return of a child who has been removed from the person entitled to possession of the child, or when a court orders the immediate possession of a child who is in danger of suffering immediate physical harm or sexual abuse. In such cases, a law enforcement officer is authorized to take possession of the child and deliver the child to the appropriate person or the Department of Family and Protective Services if necessary.)


(d) Subject to Subsection (e), in the course of investigating an alleged criminal offense, a peace officer may inquire as to the nationality or immigration status of a victim of or witness to the offense only if the officer determines that the inquiry is necessary to: (1) investigate the offense; or (2) provide the victim or witness with information about federal visas designed to protect individuals providing assistance to law enforcement.


(e) Subsection (d) does not prevent a peace officer from: (1) conducting a separate investigation of any other alleged criminal offense; or (2) inquiring as to the nationality or immigration status of a victim of or witness to a criminal offense if the officer has probable cause to believe that the victim or witness has engaged in specific conduct constituting a separate criminal offense.


(f) On a request made by that office, a peace officer shall execute an emergency detention order issued by the Texas Civil Commitment Office under Section 841.0837, Health and Safety Code.


Acts 1965, 59th Leg., vol. 2, p. 317, ch. 722. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 685, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Subsec. (c) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1276, Sec. 5.0005, eff. Sept. 1, 2003. Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 4, Sec. 6.01, eff. September 1, 2017. Amended by: Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 4 (S.B. 4), Sec. 6.01, eff. September 1, 2017. Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 34 (S.B. 1576), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2017. Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 467 (H.B. 4170), Sec. 21.001(2), eff. September 1, 2019.


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