Many states have outdated criminal laws on their statute books that can’t be enforced. For example, homosexual conduct is still a criminal offense in Texas even though the state’s ban has been overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A recent article in the Texas Tribune pointed out the state statute that bans sex between people of the same sex in Texas remains in place.
Texas made homosexual conduct a criminal act in 1973. Under the Texas Penal Code people caught committing the crime can theoretically be fined thousands of dollars and even jailed.
The fact the crime is still on the books doesn’t mean you will be convicted over a same sex relationship.
About 30 years after the Texas law was enacted, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down in the case of Lawrence v. Texas. At the time this was a landmark civil rights case. It struck down sodomy bans in 13 other states.
Although the ban on homosexual sex conduct is unconstitutional, it was never removed from Texas’ penal code.
In some cases, police officers who are ignorant of the law have sought to enforce it.
The Tribune article made reference to an incident in 2011 when two men who were kissing in a restaurant in El Paso were threatened with jail by police officers who cited the “homosexual conduct” law.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the statute relating to homosexual conduct unconstitutional in 2003, a full act of the legislature is still necessary to repeal the law.
During the current legislative session, Democratic lawmakers sought to repeal the language. As in previous sessions, they made little headway.
A report in Mother Jones stated the massive Republican majority in the Texas legislature isn’t going to allow the issue to come to a vote any time soon.
Across the country, many states still have outdated laws on their statute books that are unenforceable, according to Business Insider.
In Virginia, for example, sex is completely banned outside of marriage. In Alaska, you cannot get drunk in a bar and remain on the premises under the criminal code.
If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, our Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer can help.