Bipartisan Senate Bill 212 became effective in Texas on January 1, 2020. The bill relates to various reporting requirements for incidents that involve sexual assault and harassment, hazing, dating violence, and incidents of stalking that occur at colleges, universities, and other private and public institutions of higher learning.
The new law creates criminal offenses and authorizes a variety of administrative penalties that may be imposed against offenders, depending upon the circumstances involved. Specifically, under this new Texas law, employees of colleges and universities can be terminated from their jobs – or even charged criminally – if they fail to report certain instances of sexual misconduct.
If you have been criminally charged under this new law or any other law, it is extremely important that you retain legal counsel as early on in the process as possible. An experienced attorney will work to safeguard your legal rights and ensure that they remain protected throughout the whole process. The knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Granger and Mueller, P.C., can also represent you at all criminal court proceedings and sentencing hearings that may occur in your case.
Please contact our legal team to learn more about how we can assist you with your criminal defense.
History and Purpose behind the New Law
Senate Bill 212 comes into effect as instances of sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking are coming to the forefront at various colleges and universities throughout the country. Lawmakers have written the statute in order to fill in some gaps regarding sexual assault and harassment reporting at these institutions of higher learning.
Under Title IX, many colleges and universities already have a “mandatory reporter” who is responsible for reporting instances of sexual harassment and violence to an appointed Title IX coordinator. Title IX coordinators have a duty to investigate all sexual harassment and violence complaints. However, these “mandatory reporters” will vary, depending upon the college or university, and “mandatory reporters” can sometimes cause reports of these incidents to fall by the wayside – or to not be treated in a fair, equitable, and efficient manner.
Penalties for Violating the New Reporting Law
The penalties for violating SB 212 are serious. In some instances, failing to report an incident of sexual misconduct, violence, or harassment at a college or university can lead to higher penalties than for violating the sexual harassment policy itself. If you violate SB 212, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, and if you are convicted, you can receive a maximum of one year in jail, along with a maximum monetary fine of $4,000.
In the alternative, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 180 days, along with a maximum monetary fine of $2,000.
Call an Experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with violating SB 212, the skilled legal team at Granger and Mueller, P.C., is ready to assist you with your legal defense. To schedule a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer, please call us at (512) 474-9999 or contact us online to learn more about how we can assist you with defending against your pending criminal charge.