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Pick That up! You Could be Charged with a Felony for Littering

Posted on February 12, 2014 by Mintzer Law

Changing the oil in your car or truck might not seem like an activity that could get you thrown in jail, but failing to properly dispose of the waste oil could cost you $2,000 in fines and six months in jail if you are caught and convicted. If you are one of the many people who consider littering to be a petty offense, you could be in for a surprise if you are charged with littering in Texas.

Littering in Texas

While most littering violations are minor offenses that are typically handled with a ticket and a fine for violating the local municipal codes, dumping larger amounts of trash or waste materials are violations of the Texas Litter Abatement Act contained in the state’s Health and Safety Code. The purpose of the act is to prevent the health issues associated with the dumping of trash and garbage, as well as controlling the damage to the environment from harmful substances washing into storm drains.

Methods of Illegal Littering under Texas Law

Illegal dumping methods vary, but some of the most common forms of littering include:

  • Tossing litter from motor vehicles and boats
  • Illegal landfills created by people dumping household garbage, construction debris and yard waste
  • Disposing of trash in a dumpster belonging to someone else
  • Allowing someone to dump trash and other waste materials on your property
  • Disposing of used motor oil, grease or chemicals by dumping them into storm drains
  • Improperly disposing of used motor vehicles by abandoning them along roads or in rivers, lakes and creeks

Categories of Littering and Penalties

Disposing of litter or other solid waste on public or private property is a Class C misdemeanor. It is also a violation of the law to allow another person to dump trash and waste on your property. It is a crime under Section 365.012 of the Texas Health and Safety Code to cause a fire by tossing a lighted cigar, cigarette or match onto public or private land or to dump waste liquids of five gallons or less.

A Conviction for violating the littering laws under the Health and Safety Code is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor with fines up to $500, jail up to 30 days or a combination of both. The charges can increase to a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a $2,000 fine and jail time up to 180 days if the volume of waste dumped increases.

The time spent in jail can increase to one year along with a $4,000 fine if the amount of waste is 500 pounds. In that situation, prosecutors can charge the violator with a Class A misdemeanor. If you are caught dumping or allowing someone else to dump 1,000 pounds of waste, you could be charged with a state jail felony and be confined for up to two years.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Littering Charges

There are so many different types of littering that it’s possible to be completely unaware that you are littering. Rand Mintzer understands littering charges and knows how to defend your case. Get a hold of Rand Mintzer today by calling 713-862-8880.