TEXAS HEALTH AND SAFETY LAWS and TEXAS PENAL LAWS WRITTEN TO PROTECT TEXAS HISTORIC CEMETERIES:
HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE
TITLE 8. DEATH AND DISPOSITION OF THE BODY
SUBTITLE C. CEMETERIES AND CREMATORIES
CHAPTER 711. GENERAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO CEMETERIES
SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
(2) “Cemetery” means a place that is used or intended to be used for interment, and includes a graveyard, burial park, mausoleum, or any other area containing one or more graves.
Sec. 711.010. UNKNOWN OR ABANDONED CEMETERY. (a) The owner of property on which an unknown cemetery is discovered or on which an abandoned cemetery is located may not construct improvements on the property in a manner that would further disturb the cemetery until the human remains interred in the cemetery are removed under a written order issued by the state registrar or the state registrar’s designee under Section 711.004(f) and under an order of a district court as provided by this section.
(b) On petition of the owner of the property, a district court of the county in which an unknown cemetery is discovered or an abandoned cemetery is located may order the removal of any dedication for cemetery purposes that affects the property if the court finds that the removal of the dedication is in the public interest. If a court orders the removal of a dedication of a cemetery and all human remains on the property have not previously been removed, the court shall order the removal of the human remains from the cemetery to a perpetual care cemetery.
(c) In addition to any notice required by Section 711.004, notice of a petition filed under Subsection (b) must be given to the Texas Historical Commission and to the county historical commission of the county in which the cemetery is located. The Texas Historical Commission and the county historical commission may intervene and become parties to the suit.
Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 703, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 1999.
Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 251, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 914, Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.
Abandonment (Court cases taken from the Texas Historical Commission web site under Cemetery Law)
The fact that the remains of the dead buried in a cemetery have not been removed and that tombstones mark the places of burial is sufficient to show that the cemetery has not been abandoned. Michels v. Crouch, 122 S.W.2d 211 (Tex. Civ. App.–Eastland 1938, no writ). In Markgraf v. Salem Cemetery Assn., 540 S.W2d 524 (Tex. Civ. App.–San Antonio 1976, no writ), the court decided that land outside a cemetery fence was not abandoned because several graves were still evident. – See more at: http://www.thc.state.tx.us/preserve/projects-and-programs/cemetery-preservation/cemetery-laws#sthash.zUKrtgcE.dpuf
Sec. 711.0105. METHOD OF REMOVAL OF REMAINS. (a) The removal of remains authorized under this chapter shall be supervised by a cemetery keeper, a licensed funeral director, a medical examiner, a coroner, or a professional archeologist.
(b) The person removing the remains shall make a good faith effort to locate and remove all human remains, any casket or other covering of the remains, and any funerary objects associated with the remains.
(c) Remains that have been moved must be reburied unless a court, medical examiner, coroner, other authorized official, or next of kin approves a different disposition of the remains.
Added by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 914, Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2009.
Sec. 711.011. FILING RECORD OF UNKNOWN CEMETERY. (a) A person who discovers an unknown or abandoned cemetery shall file notice of the cemetery with the county clerk of the county in which the cemetery is located not later than the 10th day after the date of the discovery. The notice must contain a legal description of the land on which the unknown or abandoned cemetery was found and describe the approximate location of the cemetery and the evidence of the cemetery that was discovered.
(b) A county clerk may not charge a fee for filing notice under this section.
(c) The county clerk shall send a copy of the notice to the Texas Historical Commission and file the notice in the deed records of the county, with an index entry referencing the land on which the cemetery was discovered.
Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 703, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 1999.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 914, Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2009.
Sec. 711.012. RULES. (a) The Finance Commission of Texas may adopt rules to enforce and administer Sections 711.003, 711.004, 711.007, 711.008, 711.0105, 711.021-711.024, 711.032-711.036, 711.038, 711.040-711.042, 711.052, 711.061, and 711.062 relating to perpetual care cemeteries.
(b) The Texas Funeral Service Commission may adopt rules, establish procedures, and prescribe forms to enforce and administer Sections 711.003, 711.008, 711.0105, 711.021-711.034, 711.038, 711.0395, 711.041, 711.042, 711.052, 711.061, and 711.062 relating to cemeteries that are not perpetual care cemeteries.
(c) The Texas Historical Commission may adopt rules to:
(1) enforce and administer Sections 711.010 and 711.011; and
(2) enforce and administer Sections 711.004, 711.007, 711.0105, 711.035, and 711.036 relating to cemeteries that are not perpetual care cemeteries.
Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 562, Sec. 34, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 263, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 914, Sec. 8, eff. September 1, 2009.
Sec. 711.035. EFFECT OF DEDICATION. (a) Property may be dedicated for cemetery purposes, and the dedication is permitted in respect for the dead, for the disposition of remains, and in fulfillment of a duty to and for the benefit of the public.
(b) Dedication of cemetery property and title to the exclusive right of sepulture of a plot owner are not affected by the dissolution of the cemetery organization, nonuse by the cemetery organization, alienation, encumbrance, or forced sale of the property.
(c) Dedication of cemetery property may not be invalidated because of a violation of the law against perpetuities or the law against the suspension of the power of alienation of title to or use of property.
(d) A railroad, street, road, alley, pipeline, telephone, telegraph, electric line, wind turbine, cellular telephone tower, or other public utility or thoroughfare may not be placed through, over, or across a part of a dedicated cemetery without the consent of:
(1) the directors of the cemetery organization that owns or operates the cemetery; or
(2) at least two-thirds of the owners of plots in the cemetery.
(e) All property of a dedicated cemetery, including a road, alley, or walk in the cemetery:
(1) is exempt from public improvements assessments, fees, and public taxation; and
(2) may not be sold on execution or applied in payment of debts due from individual owners and plots.
(f) Dedicated cemetery property shall be used exclusively for cemetery purposes until the dedication is removed by court order or until the maintenance of the cemetery is enjoined or abated as a nuisance under Section 711.007.
(g) Property is considered to be dedicated cemetery property if:
(1) one or more human burials are present on the property; or
(2) a dedication of the property for cemetery use is recorded in the deed records of the county where the land is located.
Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 634, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 914, Sec. 9, eff. September 1, 2009.
Sec. 711.041. ACCESS TO CEMETERY. (a) Any person who wishes to visit a cemetery or private burial grounds for which no public ingress or egress is available shall have the right to reasonable ingress and egress for the purpose of visiting the cemetery or private burial grounds. This right of access extends only to visitation during the hours determined by the owner or owners of the lands under Subsection (b) or at a reasonable time as provided by Subsection (c) and only for purposes usually associated with cemetery visits.
(b) The owner or owners of the lands surrounding the cemetery or private burial grounds may designate the routes of reasonable ingress and egress and reasonable hours of availability.
(c) At a time other than the time provided by Subsection (b), the owner or owners of the lands surrounding a cemetery or private burial grounds must allow a person to enter and exit the owner’s land for the purpose of visiting the cemetery or private burial grounds if:
(1) the person provides written notice to the owner or owners of the lands surrounding the cemetery or private burial grounds of the person’s visit;
(2) the person provides the notice required by Subdivision (1) not later than the 14th day before the date the person wishes to visit the cemetery; and
(3) the time of the visit is reasonable.
Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 634, Sec. 22, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.
Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 263, Sec. 7, eff. September 1, 2009
TEXAS PENAL LAWS WRITTEN TO PROTECT HISTORIC CEMETERIES:
Sec. 42.08. ABUSE OF CORPSE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person, without legal authority, knowingly:
(1) disinters, disturbs, damages, dissects, in whole or in part, carries away, or treats in an offensive manner a human corpse;
(2) conceals a human corpse knowing it to be illegally disinterred;
(3) sells or buys a human corpse or in any way traffics in a human corpse;
(4) transmits or conveys, or procures to be transmitted or conveyed, a human corpse to a place outside the state; or
(5) vandalizes, damages, or treats in an offensive manner the space in which a human corpse has been interred or otherwise permanently laid to rest.
Sec. 31.03. THEFT. (a) A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.
(e) Except as provided by Subsection
(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor
(4) a state jail felony if:
(B) regardless of value, the property is stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave, including property that is a military grave marker