(a) In a criminal proceeding, a clerk of the district or county court shall:
(1) receive and file all papers;
(2) receive all exhibits at the conclusion of the proceeding;
(3) issue all process;
(4) accept and file electronic documents received from the defendant, if the clerk accepts electronic documents from an attorney representing the state;
(5) accept and file digital multimedia evidence received from the defendant, if the clerk accepts digital multimedia evidence from an attorney representing the state; and
(6) perform all other duties imposed on the clerk by law.
(a-1) A district clerk is exempt from the requirements of Subsections (a)(4) and (5) if the electronic filing system used by the clerk for accepting electronic documents or electronic digital media from an attorney representing the state does not have the capability of accepting electronic filings from a defendant and the system was established or procured before June 1, 2009. If the electronic filing system described by this subsection is substantially upgraded or is replaced with a new system, the exemption provided by this subsection is no longer applicable.
(b) At any time during or after a criminal proceeding, the court reporter shall release for safekeeping any firearm or contraband received as an exhibit in that proceeding to:
(1) the sheriff; or
(2) in a county with a population of 500,000 or more, the law enforcement agency that collected, seized, or took possession of the firearm or contraband or produced the firearm or contraband at the proceeding.
(c) The sheriff or the law enforcement agency, as applicable, shall receive and hold the exhibits consisting of firearms or contraband and release them only to the person or persons authorized by the court in which such exhibits have been received or dispose of them as provided by Chapter 18.
(d) In this article, “eligible exhibit” means an exhibit filed with the clerk that:
(1) is not a firearm or contraband;
(2) has not been ordered by the court to be returned to its owner; and
(3) is not an exhibit in another pending criminal action.
(e) An eligible exhibit may be disposed of as provided by this article:
(1) on or after the first anniversary of the date on which a conviction becomes final in the case, if the case is a misdemeanor or a felony for which the sentence imposed by the court is five years or less;
(2) on or after the second anniversary of the date on which a conviction becomes final in the case, if the case is a non-capital felony for which the sentence imposed by the court is greater than five years;
(3) on or after the first anniversary of the date of the acquittal of a defendant; or
(4) on or after the first anniversary of the date of the death of a defendant.
(f) Subject to Subsections (g), (h), (i), and (j), a clerk may dispose of an eligible exhibit or may deliver the eligible exhibit to the county purchasing agent for disposal as surplus or salvage property under Section 263.152, Local Government Code, if on the date provided by Subsection (e) the clerk has not received a request for the exhibit from either the attorney representing the state in the case or the attorney representing the defendant.
(f-1) Notwithstanding Section 263.156, Local Government Code, or any other law, the commissioners court shall remit 50 percent of any proceeds of the disposal of an eligible exhibit as surplus or salvage property as described by Subsection (f), less the reasonable expense of keeping the exhibit before disposal and the costs of that disposal, to each of the following:
(1) the county treasury, to be used only to defray the costs incurred by the district clerk of the county for the management, maintenance, or destruction of eligible exhibits in the county; and
(g) A clerk in a county with a population of less than two million must provide written notice by mail to the attorney representing the state in the case and the attorney representing the defendant before disposing of an eligible exhibit.
(h) The notice under Subsection (g) of this article must:
(1) describe the eligible exhibit;
(2) give the name and address of the court holding the exhibit; and
(3) state that the eligible exhibit will be disposed of unless a written request is received by the clerk before the 31st day after the date of notice.
(i) If a request is not received by a clerk covered by Subsection (g) before the 31st day after the date of notice, the clerk may dispose of the eligible exhibit in the manner permitted by this article, including the delivery of the eligible exhibit for disposal as surplus or salvage property as described by Subsection (f).
(j) If a request is timely received, the clerk shall deliver the eligible exhibit to the person making the request if the court determines the requestor is the owner of the eligible exhibit.
(k) In this article, “digital multimedia evidence” means evidence stored or transmitted in a binary form and includes data representing documents, audio, video metadata, and any other information attached to a digital file.
Acts 1965, 59th Leg., vol. 2, p. 317, ch. 722.
Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 212, ch. 119, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 27, 1979; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 967, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Subsecs. (a), (b) amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 580, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.
Amended by: Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1026 (H.B. 1048), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005. Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 795 (S.B. 1259), Sec. 10, eff. June 19, 2009. Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 829 (S.B. 1774), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009. Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 911 (S.B. 1228), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011. Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1163 (H.B. 2702), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2011. Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 946 (H.B. 1728), Sec. 2, eff. June 14, 2013. Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 469 (H.B. 4173), Sec. 2.06, eff. January 1, 2021.
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