Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

As effective September 1, 2019

Subchapter A

Art. 49.01: Definitions

In this article:

(1) "Autopsy" means a post mortem examination of the body of a person, including X-rays and an examination of the internal organs and structures after dissection, to determine the cause of death or the nature of any pathological changes that may have contributed to the death.

(2) "Inquest" means an investigation into the cause and circumstances of the death of a person, and a determination, made with or without a formal court hearing, as to whether the death was caused by an unlawful act or omission.

(3) "Inquest hearing" means a formal court hearing held to determine whether the death of a person was caused by an unlawful act or omission and, if the death was caused by an unlawful act or omission, to obtain evidence to form the basis of a criminal prosecution.

(4) "Institution" means any place where health care services are rendered, including a hospital, clinic, health facility, nursing home, extended-care facility, out-patient facility, foster-care facility, and retirement home.

(5) "Physician" means a practicing doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine who is licensed by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners under Subtitle B, Title 3, Occupations Code.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (5) amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 72, Sec. 1, eff. May 9, 1989; Subsec. (5) amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, Sec. 14.737, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Art. 49.02: Applicability

This subchapter applies to the inquest into a death occurring in a county that does not have a medical examiner's office or that is not part of a medical examiner's district.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.03: Powers and Duties

The powers granted and duties imposed on a justice of the peace under this article are independent of the powers and duties of a law enforcement agency investigating a death.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.04: Deaths Requiring an Inquest

(a) A justice of the peace shall conduct an inquest into the death of a person who dies in the county served by the justice if:

(1) the person dies in prison under circumstances other than those described by Section 501.055(b), Government Code, or in jail;

(2) the person dies an unnatural death from a cause other than a legal execution;

(3) the body or a body part of a person is found, the cause or circumstances of death are unknown, and:

(A) the person is identified; or

(B) the person is unidentified;

(4) the circumstances of the death indicate that the death may have been caused by unlawful means;

(5) the person commits suicide or the circumstances of the death indicate that the death may have been caused by suicide;

(6) the person dies without having been attended by a physician;

(7) the person dies while attended by a physician who is unable to certify the cause of death and who requests the justice of the peace to conduct an inquest; or

(8) the person is a child younger than six years of age and an inquest is required by Chapter 264, Family Code.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c) of this section, a physician who attends the death of a person and who is unable to certify the cause of death shall report the death to the justice of the peace of the precinct where the death occurred and request that the justice conduct an inquest.

(c) If a person dies in a hospital or other institution and an attending physician is unable to certify the cause of death, the superintendent or general manager of the hospital or institution shall report the death to the justice of the peace of the precinct where the hospital or institution is located.

(d) A justice of the peace investigating a death described by Subsection (a)(3)(B) shall report the death to the missing children and missing persons information clearinghouse of the Department of Public Safety and the national crime information center not later than the 10th working day after the date the investigation began.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (a) amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 255, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 321, Sec. 1.105, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 878, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Subsec. (a) amended by and Subsec. (d) added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 656, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsec. (a) amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 785, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Subsec. (a) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 826, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003 and Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1295, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Art. 49.041: Reopening an Inquest

A justice of the peace may reopen an inquest if, based on information provided by a credible person or facts within the knowledge of the justice of the peace, the justice of the peace determines that reopening the inquest may reveal a different cause or different circumstances of death.

Comments

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 897, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Art. 49.05: Time and Place of Inquest; Removal of Property and Body from Place of Death

(a) A justice of the peace shall conduct an inquest immediately or as soon as practicable after the justice receives notification of the death.

(b) A justice of the peace may conduct an inquest:

(1) at the place where the death occurred;

(2) where the body was found; or

(3) at any other place determined to be reasonable by the justice.

(c) A justice of the peace may direct the removal of a body from the scene of death or move any part of the physical surroundings of a body only after a law enforcement agency is notified of the death and a peace officer has conducted an investigation or, if a law enforcement agency has not begun an investigation, a reasonable time has elapsed from the time the law enforcement agency was notified.

(d) A law enforcement agency that is notified of a death requiring an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code shall begin its investigation immediately or as soon as practicable after the law enforcement agency receives notification of the death.

(e) Except in emergency circumstances, a peace officer or other person conducting a death investigation for a law enforcement agency may not move the body or any part of the physical surroundings of the place of death without authorization from a justice of the peace.

(f) A person not authorized by law to move the body of a decedent or any part of the physical surroundings of the body commits an offense if the person tampers with a body that is subject to an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code or any part of the physical surroundings of the body. An offense under this section is punishable by a fine in an amount not to exceed $500.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.06: Hindering an Inquest

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly hinders the entrance of a justice of the peace to a premises where a death occurred or a body is found.

(b) An offense under this article is a Class B misdemeanor.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.07: Notification of Investigating Official

(a) A physician or other person who has possession of a body or body part of a person whose death requires an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code shall immediately notify the justice of the peace who serves the precinct in which the body or body part was found.

(b) A peace officer who has been notified of the death of a person whose death requires an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code shall immediately notify the justice of the peace who serves the precinct in which the body or body part was found.

(c) (1) If the justice of the peace who serves the precinct in which the body or body part was found is not available to conduct an inquest, a person required to give notice under this article shall notify the nearest available justice of the peace serving the county in which the body or body part was found, and that justice of the peace shall conduct the inquest.

(2) If no justice of the peace serving the county in which the body or body part was found is available to conduct an inquest, a person required to give notice under this article shall notify the county judge, and the county judge shall initiate the inquest. The county judge may exercise any power and perform any duty otherwise granted to or imposed under this subchapter on the justice of the peace serving the county in which the body or body part was found, except that not later than the fifth day after the day on which the inquest is initiated, the county judge shall transfer all information obtained by the judge to the justice of the peace in whose precinct the body or body part was found for final disposition of the matter.

(3) If a justice of the peace or the county judge serving the county in which the body or body part was found is not available to conduct an inquest, a person required to give notice under this article may ask the justice of the peace of the precinct in which the body or body part was found or the county judge to request a justice of the peace of another county to which this subchapter applies to conduct the inquest. The justice of the peace that conducts the inquest shall, not later than the fifth day after the date the inquest is initiated, transfer all information related to the inquest to the justice of the peace of the precinct in which the body or body part was found for final disposition of the matter. All expenses related to the inquest must be paid as provided by this chapter.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person is required by this article to give notice and intentionally or knowingly fails to give the notice. An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (d) amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 656, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsec. (c) amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 229, Sec. 1, eff. May 22, 2001; Subsecs. (a) to (c) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 826, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1295, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 84 (H.B. 799), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2017.

Art. 49.08: Information Leading to an Inquest

A justice of the peace conducting an inquest may act on information the justice receives from any credible person or on facts within his knowledge.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.09: Body Disinterred Or Cremated

(a) If a body or body part subject to investigation under Article 49.04 of this code is interred and an authorized person has not conducted an inquest required under this subchapter, a justice of the peace may direct the disinterment of the body or body part in order to conduct an inquest.

(b) A person may not cremate or direct the cremation of a body subject to investigation under Article 49.04 unless the body is identified and the person has received from the justice of the peace a certificate signed by the justice stating that:

(1) an autopsy was performed on the body under Article 49.10 of this code; or

(2) no autopsy was necessary.

(c) An owner or operator of a crematory shall retain a certificate received under Subsection (b) of this article for a period of 10 years from the date of cremation of the body named on the certificate.

(d) A person commits an offense if the person cremates or directs the cremation of a body without obtaining a certificate from a justice of the peace as required by Subsection (b) of this article. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

(e) If the body of a deceased person is unidentified, a person may not cremate or direct the cremation of the body under this article. If the body is buried, the justice of the peace shall record and maintain for not less than 10 years all information pertaining to the body and the location of burial.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsecs. (b), (d) amended by and Subsec. (e) added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 656, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsec. (a) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 826, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1295, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Art. 49.10: Autopsies and Tests

(a) At his discretion, a justice of the peace may obtain the opinion of a county health officer or a physician concerning the necessity of obtaining an autopsy in order to determine or confirm the nature and cause of a death.

(b) The commissioners court of the county shall pay a reasonable fee for a consultation obtained by a justice of the peace under Subsection (a) of this article.

(c) Except as required by Section 264.514, Family Code, for each body that is the subject of an inquest by a justice of the peace, the justice, in the justice's discretion, shall:

(1) direct a physician to perform an autopsy; or

(2) certify that no autopsy is necessary.

(d) A justice of the peace may not order a person to perform an autopsy on the body of a deceased person whose death was caused by Asiatic cholera, bubonic plague, typhus fever, or smallpox. A justice of the peace may not order a person to perform an autopsy on the body of a deceased person whose death was caused by a communicable disease during a public health disaster.

(e) A justice of the peace shall order an autopsy performed on a body if:

(1) the justice determines that an autopsy is necessary to determine or confirm the nature and cause of death;

(2) the deceased was a child younger than six years of age and the death is determined under Section 264.514, Family Code, to be unexpected or the result of abuse or neglect; or

(3) directed to do so by the district attorney, criminal district attorney, or, if there is no district or criminal district attorney, the county attorney.

(f) A justice of the peace shall request a physician to perform the autopsy.

(g) The commissioners court shall pay a reasonable fee to a physician performing an autopsy on the order of a justice of the peace, if a fee is assessed.

(h) The commissioners court shall pay a reasonable fee for the transportation of a body to a place where an autopsy can be performed under this article if a justice of the peace orders the body to be transported to the place.

(i) If a justice of the peace determines that a complete autopsy is unnecessary to confirm or determine the cause of death, the justice may order a physician to take or remove from a body a sample of body fluids, tissues, or organs in order to determine the nature and cause of death. Except as provided by Subsection (j) of this article, a justice may not order any person other than a physician to take samples from the body of a deceased person.

(j) A justice of the peace may order a physician, qualified technician, paramedic, chemist, registered professional nurse, or licensed vocational nurse to take a specimen of blood from the body of a person who died as the result of a motor vehicle accident if the justice determines that circumstances indicate that the person may have been driving while intoxicated.

(k) A justice of the peace may order an investigative or laboratory test to determine the identity of a deceased person. After proper removal of a sample from a body, a justice may order any person specially trained in identification work to complete any tests necessary to determine the identity of the deceased person.

(l) A medical examination on an unidentified person shall include the following information to enable a timely and accurate identification of the person:

(1) all available fingerprints and palm prints;

(2) dental charts and radiographs (X-rays) of the person's teeth;

(3) frontal and lateral facial photographs with scale indicated;

(4) notation and photographs, with scale indicated, of a significant scar, mark, tattoo, or item of clothing or other personal effect found with or near the body;

(5) notation of antemortem medical conditions;

(6) notation of observations pertinent to the estimation of time of death; and

(7) precise documentation of the location of burial of the remains.

(m) A medical examination on an unidentified person may include the following information to enable a timely and accurate identification of the person:

(1) full body radiographs (X-rays); and

(2) hair specimens with roots.

(n) On discovering the body or body part of a deceased person in the circumstances described by Article 49.04(a)(3)(B), the justice of the peace may request the aid of a forensic anthropologist in the examination of the body or body part. The forensic anthropologist must hold a doctoral degree in anthropology with an emphasis in physical anthropology. The forensic anthropologist shall attempt to establish whether the body or body part is of a human or animal, whether evidence of childbirth, injury, or disease exists, and the sex, race, age, stature, and physical anomalies of the body or body part. The forensic anthropologist may also attempt to establish the cause, manner, and time of death.

(o) If a person is injured in one county and dies as a result of those injuries, with the death occurring in another county, the attorney representing the state in the prosecution of felonies in the county in which the injury occurred may request a justice of the peace in the county in which the death occurred to order an autopsy be performed on the body of the deceased person. If the justice of the peace orders that the autopsy be performed, the county in which the injury occurred shall reimburse the county in which the death occurred.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (e) amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 255, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 878, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1022, Sec. 102, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1301, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsecs. (l) to (n) added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 656, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsec. (c) amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1071, Sec. 1, eff. August 30, 1999; Subsec. (j) amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1132, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Subsec. (n) amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 240, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Subsec. (o) added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 237, Sec. 1, eff. May 22, 2001; Subsec. (d) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.190, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Subsec. (n) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 826, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Subsec. (n) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1295, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Art. 49.11: Chemical Analysis

(a) A justice of the peace may obtain a chemical analysis of a sample taken from a body in order to determine whether death was caused, in whole or in part, by the ingestion, injection, or introduction into the body of a poison or other chemical substance. A justice may obtain a chemical analysis under this article from a chemist, toxicologist, pathologist, or other medical expert.

(b) A justice of the peace shall obtain a chemical analysis under Subsection (a) of this article if requested to do so by the physician who performed an autopsy on the body.

(c) The commissioners court shall pay a reasonable fee to a person who conducts a chemical analysis at the request of a justice of the peace.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.12: Liability of Person Performing Autopsy Or Test

A person who performs an autopsy or makes a test on a body on the order of a justice of the peace in the good faith belief that the order is valid is not liable for damages if the order is invalid.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.14: Inquest Hearing

(a) A justice of the peace conducting an inquest may hold an inquest hearing if the justice determines that the circumstances warrant the hearing. The justice shall hold an inquest hearing if requested to do so by a district attorney or a criminal district attorney who serves the county in which the body was found.

(b) An inquest hearing may be held with or without a jury unless the district attorney or criminal district attorney requests that the hearing be held with a jury.

(c) A jury in an inquest hearing is composed of six persons. Jurors shall be summoned in the same manner as are jurors for county court. A juror who is properly summoned and fails to appear, other than a juror exempted by law, commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is punishable by a fine not to exceed $100.

(d) A justice of the peace may hold a public or a private inquest hearing. If a person has been arrested and charged with causing the death of the deceased, the defendant and the defendant's counsel are entitled to be present at the inquest hearing, examine witnesses, and introduce evidence.

(e) A justice of the peace may issue a subpoena to enforce the attendance of a witness at an inquest hearing and may issue an attachment for a person who is subpoenaed and fails to appear at the time and place cited on the subpoena.

(f) A justice of the peace may require bail of a witness to secure the appearance of the witness at an inquest hearing or before a grand jury, examining court, or other court investigating a death.

(g) The justice of the peace shall swear witnesses appearing at an inquest hearing. The justice and an attorney representing the state may examine witnesses at an inquest hearing. The justice shall direct that all sworn testimony be reduced to writing and the justice shall subscribe the transcription.

(h) Only the justice of the peace, a person charged in the death under investigation, the counsel for the person charged, and an attorney representing the state may question a witness at an inquest hearing.

(i) A justice of the peace may hold a person who disrupts the proceedings of an inquest hearing in contempt of court. A person who is found in contempt of court under this subsection may be fined in an amount not to exceed $100 and removed from court by a peace officer.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.15: Inquest Record

(a) A justice of the peace or other person authorized under this subchapter to conduct an inquest shall make an inquest record for each inquest he conducts. The inquest record must include a report of the events, proceedings, findings, and conclusions of the inquest. The record must also include any autopsy prepared in the case and all other papers of the case. All papers of the inquest record must be marked with the case number and be clearly indexed and be maintained in the office of the justice of the peace and be made available to the appropriate officials upon request.

(b) As part of the inquest record, the justice of the peace shall make and keep complete and permanent records of all inquest hearings. The inquest hearing records must include:

(1) the name of the deceased person or, if the person is unidentified, a description of the body;

(2) the time, date, and place where the body was found;

(3) the time, date, and place where the inquest was held;

(4) the name of every witness who testified at the inquest;

(5) the name of every person who provided to the justice information pertinent to the inquest;

(6) the amount of bail set for each witness and person charged in the death;

(7) a transcript of the testimony given by each witness at the inquest hearing;

(8) the autopsy report, if an autopsy was performed; and

(9) the name of every person arrested as a suspect in the death who appeared at the inquest and the details of that person's arrest.

(c) The commissioners court shall pay a reasonable fee to a person who records or transcribes sworn testimony during an inquest hearing.

(d) Repealed by Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 716 (H.B. 300), Sec. 2, eff. June 10, 2019.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 716 (H.B. 300), Sec. 2, eff. June 10, 2019.

Art. 49.16: Orders and Death Certificates

The justice of the peace or other person who conducts an inquest under this subchapter shall sign the death certificate and all orders made as a necessary part of the inquest.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.17: Evidence

A justice of the peace shall preserve all tangible evidence that the justice accumulates in the course of an inquest that tends to show the real cause of death or identify the person who caused the death. The justice shall deposit the evidence with the appropriate law enforcement agency to be stored in the agency's property room for safekeeping.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 716 (H.B. 300), Sec. 1, eff. June 10, 2019.

Art. 49.18: Death in Custody

(a) If a person confined in a penal institution dies, the sheriff or other person in charge of the penal institution shall as soon as practicable inform the justice of the peace of the precinct where the penal institution is located of the death.

(b) If a person dies while in the custody of a peace officer or as a result of a peace officer's use of force or if a person incarcerated in a jail, correctional facility, or state juvenile facility dies, the director of the law enforcement agency of which the officer is a member or of the facility in which the person was incarcerated shall investigate the death and file a written report of the cause of death with the attorney general no later than the 30th day after the date on which the person in custody or the incarcerated person died. The director shall make a good faith effort to obtain all facts relevant to the death and include those facts in the report. The attorney general shall make the report, with the exception of any portion of the report that the attorney general determines is privileged, available to any interested person.

(c) Subsection (a) does not apply to a death that occurs in a facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Subsection (b) does not apply to a death that occurs in a facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice if the death occurs under circumstances described by Section 501.055(b)(2), Government Code.

(d) In this article:

(1) "Correctional facility" means a confinement facility or halfway house operated by or under contract with any division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

(2) "In the custody of a peace officer" means:

(A) under arrest by a peace officer; or

(B) under the physical control or restraint of a peace officer.

(3) "State juvenile facility" means any facility or halfway house:

(A) operated by or under contract with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department; or

(B) described by Section 51.02(13) or (14), Family Code.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (c) added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 321, Sec. 1.106, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Subsec. (c) amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1422, Sec. 1, eff. June 20, 1997; Subsec. (b) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 894, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Subsec. (c) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 894, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Subsec. (d) added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 894, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 734 (H.B. 1549), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2015.

Art. 49.19: Warrant of Arrest

(a) A justice of the peace who is conducting an inquest of a death under this subchapter may issue a warrant for the arrest of a person suspected of causing the death if:

(1) the justice has knowledge that the person caused the death of the deceased;

(2) the justice receives an affidavit stating that the person caused the death; or

(3) evidence is adduced at an inquest hearing that shows probable cause to believe the person caused the death.

(b) A peace officer who receives an arrest warrant issued by a justice of the peace shall:

(1) execute the warrant without delay; and

(2) detain the person arrested until the person's discharge is ordered by the justice of the peace or other proper authority.

(c) A person who is charged in a death and arrested under a warrant of a justice of the peace shall remain in the custody of the arresting peace officer and may not be removed from the peace officer's custody on the authority of a warrant from another magistrate. A person charged in a death who has not been arrested under a warrant of a justice of the peace may be arrested on the order of a magistrate other than the justice of the peace and examined by that magistrate while an inquest is pending.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.20: Requisites of Warrant

A warrant of arrest issued under Article 49.19 of this code is sufficient if it:

(1) is issued in the name of "The State of Texas";

(2) specifies the name of the person whose arrest is ordered or, if the person's name is unknown, reasonably describes the person;

(3) recites in plain language the offense with which the person is charged; and

(4) is signed and dated by a justice of the peace.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.21: Commitment of Homicide Suspect

At the conclusion of an inquest, if a justice of the peace finds that a person who has been arrested in the case caused or contributed to the death of the deceased, the justice may:

(1) commit the person to jail; or

(2) require the person to execute a bail bond with security for the person's appearance before the proper court to answer for the offense.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.22: Sealing Premises of Deceased

(a) If a body or body part that is subject to an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code is found on premises that were under the sole control of the deceased, a justice of the peace or other person authorized under this subchapter to conduct an inquest may direct that the premises be locked and sealed to prohibit entrance by any person other than a peace officer conducting an investigation of the death.

(b) Rent, utility charges, taxes, and all other reasonable expenses accruing against the property of the deceased during the time the premises of the deceased are locked and sealed under this article may be charged against the estate of the deceased.

(c) A person other than a peace officer commits an offense if the person tampers with or removes a lock or seal placed on premises under this article.

(d) An offense under this article is a Class B misdemeanor.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Subsec. (d) amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 656, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Subsec. (a) amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 826, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2003 and Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1295, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Art. 49.23: Office of Death Investigator

(a) The commissioners court of a county may establish an office of death investigator and employ one or more death investigators to provide assistance to those persons in the county who conduct inquests. A death investigator employed under this article is entitled to receive compensation from the county in an amount set by the commissioners court. A death investigator serves at the will of the commissioners court and on terms and conditions set by the commissioners court.

(b) To be eligible for employment as a death investigator, a person must have experience or training in investigative procedures concerning the circumstances, manner, and cause of the death of a deceased person.

(c) At the request of and under the supervision of a justice of the peace or other person conducting an inquest, a death investigator may assist the person conducting the inquest to investigate the time, place, and manner of death and lock and seal the premises of the deceased. A death investigator who assists in an inquest under this subsection shall make a complete report of the death investigator's activities, findings, and conclusions to the justice of the peace or other person conducting the inquest not later than eight hours after the death investigator completes the investigation.

Comments

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 529, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Art. 49.24: Notification and Report of Death of Resident of Institution

(a) A superintendent or general manager of an institution who is required by Article 49.04 to report to a justice of the peace the death of an individual under the care, custody, or control of or residing in the institution shall:

(1) notify the office of the attorney general of the individual's death within 24 hours of the death; and

(2) prepare and submit to the office of the attorney general a report containing all facts relevant to the individual's death within 72 hours of the death.

(b) The superintendent or general manager of the institution shall make a good faith effort to obtain all facts relevant to an individual's death and to include those facts in the report submitted under Subsection (a)(2).

(c) The office of the attorney general may investigate each death reported to the office by an institution that receives payments through the medical assistance program under Chapter 32, Human Resources Code.

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (e), the office of the attorney general shall make a report submitted under Subsection (a)(2) available to any interested person who submits a written request for access to the report.

(e) The office of the attorney general may deny a person access to a report or a portion of a report filed under Subsection (a)(2) if the office determines that the report or a portion of the report is:

(1) privileged from discovery; or

(2) exempt from required public disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.

(f) This article does not relieve a superintendent or general manager of an institution of the duty of making any other notification or report of an individual's death as required by law.

(g) For the purposes of this article, the definition of "institution" excludes hospitals.

Comments

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 894, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 392 (S.B. 1469), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2005.