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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The law of Texas is derived from the Constitution of Texas and consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local laws and regulations.


Title page of the Revised Civil Statutes from 1925
Title page of the <i>Revised Civil Statutes</i> from 1925

The Constitution of Texas is the foremost source of state law. Legislation is enacted by the Texas Legislature, published in the General and Special Laws, and codified in the Texas Statutes. State agencies publish regulations (sometimes called administrative law) in the Texas Register, which are in turn codified in the Texas Administrative Code. The Texas legal system is based on common law, which is interpreted by case law through the decisions of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Courts of Appeals, which are published in the Texas Cases and South Western Reporter. Counties and municipal governments may also promulgate local ordinances. There are also several sources of persuasive authority, which are not binding authority but are useful to lawyers and judges insofar as they help to clarify the current state of the law.[citation needed]


The Constitution of Texas is the foundation of the government of Texas and vests the legislative power of the state in the Texas Legislature. The Texas Constitution is subject only to the sovereignty of the people of Texas as well as the Constitution of the United States, although this is disputed.


Pursuant to the state constitution, the Texas Legislature has enacted various laws, known as "chapter laws" or generically as "slip laws". These are published in the official General and Special Laws of the State of Texas as "session laws".[1][2] Most of these statutes are codified.[3]

The Texas Constitution requires the Texas Legislature to revise, digest, and publish the laws of the state; however, it has never done so regularly.[4] In 1925 the Texas Legislature reorganized the statutes into three major divisions: the <i>Revised Civil Statutes</i>, Penal Code, and <i>Code of Criminal Procedure</i>.[2][5] In 1963, the Texas legislature began a major revision of the 1925 Texas statutory classification scheme, and as of 1989 over half of the statutory law had been arranged under the recodification process.[2]

The de facto codifications are Vernon's Texas Statutes Annotated and Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated, commonly known as Vernon's.[4][6] The unannotated constitution, codes, and statutes can also be accessed online through a website of the Texas Legislative Council.[6] Gammel's Laws of Texas contains relevant legislation from 1822-1897.[7]


Pursuant to broadly worded statutes, state agencies have promulgated an enormous body[clarification needed] of regulations (sometimes called administrative law). The Texas Administrative Code contains the compiled and indexed regulations of Texas state agencies and is published yearly by the Secretary of State.[8] The Texas Register contains proposed rules, notices, executive orders, and other information of general use to the public and is published weekly by the Secretary of State.[9] Both are also available online through a website of the Secretary of State.[10][11]

Case law

The Texas legal system is based on common law, which is interpreted by case law through the decisions of the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Texas Courts of Appeals. There is no longer an officially published reporter. West's Texas Cases (a Texas-specific version of the South Western Reporter) includes reported opinions of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Courts of Appeals.[12][13] The Texas Reports includes Supreme Court opinions until July 1962, and the Texas Criminal Reports includes Court of Criminal Appeals opinions until November 1962.[13] There is no systematic reporting of decisions of trial courts.[12] Court opinions can generally be freely accessed on the web from the various courts' websites, with appellate opinions generally being available from 1997–2002 onwards.[14]

Local ordinances

Municipal governments may promulgate local ordinances, rules, and police regulations, and are usually codified in a "code of ordinances".[15] Counties in Texas have limited regulatory (ordinance) authority.[15] Some codes are printed by private publishers, and some are available online, but the most common method of discovering local ordinances is by physically traveling to the seat of government and asking around.[16]

Age of criminal responsibility

The age at which a person is automatically tried as an adult is 17. This differs from other rights, such as voting (18).[17] As of 2017 there was advocacy to raise the age to 18.[18] The Texas House of Representatives passed such a bill in 2017 that would be effective 2021.[19] In August 2017 there were thirty-three prisoners in adult prisons and/or state jails who were below the age of 18.[20]

In Texas the minimum age in which a child may be adjudicated as delinquent is 10.[21]

See also




  1. ^ Legislative Council, p. 9.
  2. ^ a b c State of Texas v. West Publishing Company, 882 F.2d 171 (5th Cir. 1989).
  3. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 219.
  4. ^ a b Quarles & Cordon 2008, p. 121.
  5. ^ Texas State Law Library. "Historical Texas Statutes". Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Legislative Council, pp. 24–25.
  7. ^ Gammel, H.P.N. (1898). The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897.
  8. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 305.
  9. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, pp. 302–304.
  10. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 304.
  11. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 306.
  12. ^ a b Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 73.
  13. ^ a b Quarles & Cordon 2008, p. 34.
  14. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2008, pp. 35–36.
  15. ^ a b Quarles & Cordon 2003, p. 225.
  16. ^ Quarles & Cordon 2003, pp. 225–226.
  17. ^ Albrecht, Annie F. (December 14, 2017). A CHILD IN EVERY WAY BUT ONE: RAISING THE AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY IN TEXAS (Thesis). University of Texas at Austin. doi:10.15781/T2FN1184Z. - Plan II Honors Program - The cited information is in the abstract.
  18. ^ Silver, Jonathan (January 30, 2017). "Juvenile justice advocates look to raise age of criminal responsibility to 18". Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  19. ^ Silver, Jonathan (April 20, 2017). "House passes bill to raise age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18". Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  20. ^ “Raise the Age”: Hold 17-Year-Olds Accountable in the Juvenile Justice System | Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
  21. ^ "Minimum Age for Delinquency Adjudication—Multi-Jurisdiction Survey". National Juvenile Defender Center. Retrieved March 14, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 March 2020, at 15:47
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