The state has taken many steps in the past decade to further protect the environment. Acts such as dumping trash on the side of the road and pouring hazardous chemicals in lakes and streams are crimes in the eyes of Texas. There’s a reason you see so many signs that say “Keep Texas Beautiful.” The state takes environmental crimes seriously, and they are willing to punish you with six-figure fines and time behind bars. Both corporations and individuals can commit environmental crimes. Regardless, though, you will need legal representation to fight the allegations against you.
With the increase in environmental awareness, crimes against the environment have grown in the past few years. State prosecutors will stop at nothing to convict you so they can keep environmental groups off their backs. Understanding the laws that govern such crimes can be difficult to navigate on your own. That is why The Gonzalez Law Group wants to help.
We will be with you every step of the way and ensure the best possible outcome is achieved for your situation. Schedule a time to speak with us more about your case. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form.
The Gonzalez Law Group represents clients accused of environmental crimes in all communities in Harris County such as Houston, Glenbrook Valley, Park Place, and Pasadena.
- What are the Penalties for Illegal Dumping in Texas?
- Hazardous Waste Dumping
- Texas Water Pollution Crimes
- Additional Resources
What are the Penalties for Illegal Dumping in Texas?
You may not feel like a criminal when you dump garbage in a place you’re not supposed to, but the state of Texas feels otherwise. Under section 356.012 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, it’s illegal to dump waste or litter anywhere that isn’t an approved waste site.
You can be convicted of a crime for dumping less than five pounds of garbage, and the more you illegally dump, the harsher the penalties. If you are convicted of illegal dumping, you could face the following penalties.
- Waste that weighs less than five pounds or has a volume less than five gallons is a class C misdemeanor that is punishable by a $500 fine
- Waste that weighs more than five pounds but less than 500 pounds or has a volume of more than five gallons, but less than 100 cubic feet is a class B misdemeanor that is punishable by:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Waste that weighs 500 pounds or more but less than 1,000 or has a volume of 100 cubic feet or more but less than 200 cubic feet is a class A misdemeanor that is punishable by:
- Up to a year in jail
- A fine of up to $4,000
Dumping materials that cause a fire is another crime that is penalized under section 356.012 of the Health and Safety Code. This offense is called discarding lighted materials, and it is punished by a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jails or both a fine and confinement.
Hazardous Waste Dumping
Almost every home contains at least one type of hazardous material. These materials can include paint, herbicides, pesticides, and automotive products.
These materials are not supposed to be disposed of in the garbage. Instead, there’s a particular procedure that needs to be followed when disposing of such materials. Failing to do so can result in criminal charges under section 7.162 of the Texas Water Code.
According to the Water Code, hazardous waste dumping is intentional or knowing transportation, storage, or disposal of any hazardous waste without the necessary permits. Penalties for the crime can range from a $1,000 to $50,000 fine, up to 10 years in jail, or both a fine and incarceration.
Texas Water Pollution Crimes
According to Environment Texas, an environmental group, the state is ranked first for illegal water pollution. Major corporations were the main contributors, but individuals contributed to the problem as well.
Water pollution can be charged in one of two ways; the first is called intentional or knowing unauthorized discharge. The crime is defined under section 7.145 of the Texas Water Code as the intentional or knowing discharge of waste or pollutants into or adjacent to water and it results in water pollution. These bodies of waters can include state lakes, streams, or ponds.
If you are charged under section 7.145 of the Water Code, you could be penalized with a fine that can range from $1,000 to $100,000, up to five years in jail, or both. Corporations and businesses found guilty of the crime will be penalized with a fine that can range from $1,000 to $250,000.
Another water pollution crime you can be charged with is unauthorized discharge. You are considered guilty of unauthorized discharge if you dump or allow waste or pollutants to be dumped into any body of water in the state that causes or threatens to cause water pollution.
There are situations, though, where dumping pollutants or waste in the water is acceptable. These situations include:
- The discharge complied with permits from a regulatory agency
- The discharge was used oil and it was less than 15 parts per million and the person who dumped it was authorized to do so.
You are looking at a fine that can range from $1,000 to $50,000 and up to one year in jail if you are charged under this section of the Water Code. If a business or corporation is found guilty of unauthorized discharge, it could be fined $1,000 to $100,000.
Additional Resources for Environmental Crimes
Litter | Texas Health and Safety Code– Follow this link to read the complete text of the chapter that governs illegal dumping in Texas. You can read the precise legal definition of the crime, admissible defenses, and learn what an approved solid waste site is. The statute can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Violations Relating to Hazardous Waste | Texas Water Code – Read the section of the Water Code that governs violations relating to hazardous waste. You can learn about conduct that is penalized under this section and their respective penalties.
Environmental Crimes Lawyer in Harris County, TX
Whether you are a regular person being investigated for an environmental crime or a corporation, you will need experienced legal representation to fight the allegations against you. The attorneys at The Gonzalez Law Group will formulate a defense plan that is in your best interest, and they will stop at nothing to get your case dismissed or the charges reduced.
The Gonzalez Law Group has over 70 years of collective experience defending clients in Harris County. Some of the communities we serve include South Houston, Pearland, Deer Park, Brookside Village, and Friendswood.
To schedule a free case consultation, call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form.