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The legislature recently overhauled the transportation code. They removed the offense of no front license plate from chapter 502 and placed it into chapter 504. Originally there were two offenses in chapter 502 under the same heading and they had a punishment range defined in the statute of up to $200. They separated the two offenses and put no front license plate in its own statute without a punishment range. Does anyone know what the punishment range is and what statute says it is $200.00. Our legislative update is silent to this issue although it does mention the move to 504. Chapter 502 has a general punishment range for anything in chapter 502 but there doesn't appear to be a statute that applies to chapter 504.
 
Posts: 161 | Registered: June 30, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by James:
Does anyone know what the punishment range is and what statute says it is $200.00.


There isn't a punishment range. That's why the authoring legislator has requested an AG Opinion on that question. See
RQ-1014-GA.

For more on this issue, review our interim legislative update from last month at http://www.tdcaa.com/legislative/interim-legislative-update-january-2012.
 
Posts: 2396 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The AG's website now indicates that request for AG opinion RQ-1014-GA has been withdrawn. If you look for it under pending requests, it is no longer there. If you look for the request in the index, you can pull it up but the index says it was withdrawn. You can still read the request letter itself, though.

Has anyone had any cases involving this issue since the new law went into effect?
 
Posts: 341 | Location: Tarrant County, Texas | Registered: August 24, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am curious if anyone has faced a suppression hearing where the defendant's initial stop was based on having no front license plate. I had a call this morning from an officer who heading to a suppression hearing on that basis. He stopped the driver to give him a warning that he needed to have a front LP (the statute does say it's an offense Smile), and ended up handing him a citation for drug paraphernalia.

Janette A
 
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sounds like he officer took a very reasonable approach.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Watched an ALR suspension appeal based on this last week. Atty. argued since no punishment then no crime. DPS argued it is an offense regardless of whether there is an assigned penalty. The stop resulted in a DWI arrest, so the argument was simply whether you could stop the violator for this offense in the first place. The judge thought you could.

I couldn't find a general app. section to provide a penalty. Appears that was left behind in the old subtitle this moved out of. Just needs a tweak next session I reckon.
 
Posts: 73 | Location: Richmond, TX | Registered: January 06, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm pretty sure that Rep. Pickett or another legislator will file a bill correcting the oversight regarding the lack of a general offense. I agree with you that at the very least, it is clear that the legislature intended this to be an offense. Our officers have been stopping drivers and giving them warnings about the lack of the front LP. My understanding is that this was never meant to be a substantive change in the law. I hope when the file the bill they also change the language about placement of the plates.

Janette A
 
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That's interesting, but I don't see how an officer has authority to pull someone over to give a warning about something that isn't actually a crime. And, no, it doesn't matter that the statute says it's an "offense." Forbidden conduct without a penalty is no crime.

So, on what basis can I be warned about something that I can't be ticketed for, or hauled into court, or whatever? If an officer can stop me for that, he should be able to stop me for anything that he thinks should be a crime, but isn't. . .
 
Posts: 143 | Location: Fort Worth | Registered: August 08, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What is your cite of authority for the statement that "forbidden conduct without a penalty is no crime"?

Not to get all metaphysical or anything, but a thing can be wrong and still have no consequences.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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See, e.g., United States v. Evans, 333 U.S. 483 (1948) (Congress prohibited concealing an alien, but the penalty prescribed was too vague, so one who did the forbidden act committed no crime);

Luurtsema v. Commissioner of Corrections, 299 Conn. 740, 12 A.3d 817 (Conn. 2011) (To constitute a crime, forbidden conduct must be accompanied by a clearly prescribed legal penalty);

Horak v. State, 95 Tex. Crim. 474, 255 S.W. 191 (Tex. Crim. App. 1923) (manufacture of intoxicating liquor for medicinal purposes without a permit is not a penal offense, since no penalty has been affixed)

I absolutely agree that something can be wrong. But that doesn't make it a criminal offense. And if it isn't a criminal offense (or if there's not reasonable suspicion to think a criminal offense has occurred), it seems problematic for officers to stop people to hand out warnings.
 
Posts: 143 | Location: Fort Worth | Registered: August 08, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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From the annotations to PC 1.03:

Unless the written law makes an act or omission an offense, and affixes thereto a penalty, such act or omission cannot be punished. Smith v. State (1879) 7 Tex.Crim. 286; Rogers v. State (1880) 8 Tex.Crim. 401.


If an act or omission eo nomine, was made a penal offense, and a penalty was affixed thereto, it became an offense punishable under Vernon's Ann.P.C. art. 3. Smith v. State (1879) 7 Tex.Crim. 286; Robinson v. State (1881) 11 Tex.Crim. 309; Ex parte Bergen (1883) 14 Tex.Crim. 52; Cross v. State (1885) 17 Tex.Crim. 476.


Our statutes are wholly intolerant of constructive offenses and constructive punishments. Murray v. State (1886) 21 Tex.Crim. 620, 2 S.W. 757; Beeson v. State (1887) 23 Tex.Crim. 406, 5 S.W. 118; Terry v. State (1888) 25 Tex.Crim. 715, 8 S.W. 934.
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: July 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"Wholly intolerant" -- I like that.

At the risk of resurrecting something that doesn't need to be, I thought this general statement of law today from the CCA was sorta on point:

"An officer's mistake about the law, or about the legal significance of undisputed facts, even if eminently reasonable, cannot serve to provide probable cause or reasonable suspicion; it cannot, in other words, validate an otherwise invalid seizure."
Robinson v. State, No. PD-0238-11, slip op. at 5 (Tex. Crim. App. Sept. 19, 2012) (italics in original).

With this license plate business, we have a situation where officers are pulling people over with full knowledge that this really isn't an offense -- at least not one that they can hand out a ticket for, or punish someone for, or whatever.
 
Posts: 143 | Location: Fort Worth | Registered: August 08, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not to resurrect an old topic, but flash forward to mid-2013, what is the general feel on this issue. I am sure a few cases/court hearings have gone thru the system by now.

Can "No Front Plate" be legit Reasonable Susp. for a traffic stop ? Is this still "an offense" ?

Thank You
 
Posts: 5 | Location: Texas | Registered: August 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bill,

I haven't found anything, but we were looking at 504.943 as a stopgap. It says that TWO license plates are required. Those with no front license plates will not have TWO plates normally.

But, again we are working with the issue of no penalty group or penalty assessed. We have tried to avoid this issue as much as possible.
 
Posts: 106 | Location: Kingsville, Texas, USA | Registered: July 19, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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HB 625 from the regular session would explicitly make violation of Trans Code 504.943 an offense. It is awaiting the Governor's signature. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us...gSess=83R&Bill=HB625
 
Posts: 341 | Location: Tarrant County, Texas | Registered: August 24, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Man I hate that law. Being an automobile enthusiast it kills me to put a plate on the front of some of my cars. I had a "flipper" on the last couple so I could put the front plate down when racing or "Shine N Shows" but now its a class A to have one of those. Its really just a stupid freaking law.
 
Posts: 233 | Location: Anderson, Texas | Registered: July 11, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not being an automobile enthusiast, I don't understand the hatred of front LPs. They just seem to make sense to me. Tuck, would you mind explaining what's so awful about them? Is it just a looks issue, or is there some other reason automobile enthusiasts don't like them?
 
Posts: 1114 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Andrea - I am not a car enthusiast either, but I do know that many cars (especially those sold in other states) are not made with a license plate "space" in the bumper, which necessitates drilling holes in an otherwise perfectly assembled (and beautiful) bumper. I imagine for show cars, this creates additional difficulty.
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Many cars, such as a Corvette or Lexus, look horrible with a front plate.
 
Posts: 5 | Location: Texas | Registered: August 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not every state requires 2 LPs.
 
Posts: 36 | Location: UT - Austin Law School | Registered: January 10, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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