The Texas Bill of Rights

Being charged with a crime in a Texas court is a daunting situation, but you should take pride in the fact that the State of Texas protects your civil rights at a higher level than the U.S. Constitution requires and you have more rights than many other states in our country. Great examples are the requirements of 38.22 and 38.23 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. 38.22 requires that Miranda rights be in writing or recorded; federal law does not require this. 38.23 has broader restrictions on unlawful searches than the 4th Amendment requires.

Texas requires that any fact related to sentencing must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be considered as an enhancement and the rules of evidence apply to punishment hearings. In federal court, “relevant conduct” allows hearsay that does not rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt level can substantiate harsh sentences. Texas also requires that accomplice testimony or “snitches” be corroborated by other reliable evidence. The federal system has no such requirement!

Texans enjoy the right to have a jury assess punishment instead of a judge. Texas has stricter laws prohibiting expunged arrests from being published online. Other states only require publication of the fact that the case is expunged but the mugshot remains! Texans have more rights than most other Americans and therefore are some of the freest people on Earth.

This isn’t surprising. Texas has a long history of loving freedom. That is why our Texas founders put the Texas Bill of Rights right at the beginning, in Article I, of the Texas Constitution. It is not a list of amendments like the U.S. Bill of Rights. Also of note, our Texas Bill of Rights actually includes the right to vote. Be proud Texans!