Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from May 14, 2014 through June 10, 2014.

Opinion No. GA-1063 (Court Costs):  The fee imposed under Article 102.005 of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to a defendant convicted of an offense in a county-level court. A defendant whose conviction from a municipal court of record was affirmed at the county-court level would not be subject to the fees imposed under Article 102.005 because the conviction occurred at the municipal level. Unlike an appeal from a municipal court of record, however, a defendant appealing a conviction from a municipal court that is not a court of record may be convicted at the county court level following a trial de novo.

Certain court costs and fees will be assessed for each convicted offense of a defendant, while others will be assessed once per case, and a determination about a specific cost or fee will require a review of the statute or rule imposing that cost.

While Articles 42.03 and 45.041 of the Code of Criminal Procedure authorize a court to give a defendant credit only for time served from the time of arrest and confinement until sentencing by the trial court, other provisions authorize certain courts to use a defendant’s time served to satisfy court fines and costs in specific instances. Whether a convicted defendant may be given credit toward outstanding court costs will require analyzing specific facts against the relevant statute authorizing the credit.

Article 102.011(a)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes a court to assess a separate fee for each arrest warrant issued even when multiple warrants result in only one arrest.

Article 102.011(a)(6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes a $5 fee for commitment or release services performed in the case by a peace officer. A court could conclude that any commitment or release from jail after the conclusion of the case will not be a service performed in the case and that Article 102.011(a)(6) does not authorize fees for those services.

Opinion No. GA-1060 (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs):  A court would likely conclude that it is within the authority of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) to consider a development undergoing a conversion pursuant to the United States Department of Housing’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program as eligible to compete for the at-risk set-aside under Government Code Section 2306.6714 if TDHCA determines that all applicable eligibility requirements have been satisfied.

Opinion No. GA-1059 (Asset Forfeiture Funds):  A court would be unlikely to conclude that a district attorney may use asset forfeiture funds to purchase land and a building for subsequent sale or lease to other entities as such use of the property would likely not be considered an official purpose of the district attorney’s office under Article 59.06 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.