Ken Paxton

Nuisance Abatement

Under the Texas nuisance abatement statute, any property can be closed down by court order if it is being used as a crack house, brothel, gang headquarters, or other base of operations for criminals. The statute works by holding the property owners and managers responsible for what happens on their property.

The Attorney General helps law enforcement use nuisance abatement laws to shut down gang hangouts and to keep gang members from publicly assembling in areas where criminal activity is rampant.

Civil lawsuits close down havens for crime

Chapter 125 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code and Section 101.70 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code are considered the "Texas Nuisance Abatement Statutes." These statutes permit law enforcement agencies to close any piece of property involved in illegal activities, including violations of the Texas Penal Code, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) helps Texas municipalities, local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies (including police departments, sheriff's offices, task forces and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) in targeting, processing and filing suit against property owners who allow public and common nuisances to exist on their property.

The purpose of a nuisance abatement lawsuit is not to show or prove that the property owner is guilty of illegal acts, but rather to prove that the property owner allowed the illegal activity to occur on the property and failed to make reasonable attempts to stop it.

Many police departments have become skilled at this procedure and have great success on their own. When local law enforcement lacks the resources or experience in such cases, the OAG will send staff when requested to any area of the state to provide technical assistance in initiating the nuisance abatement process.

Evidence will be compiled and sent to the OAG for review. Arrest reports, calls for police service and search warrants contained in local departmental records, as well as police officers' and residents' affidavits, are all used in this process. When the OAG determines that sufficient evidence exists, a lawsuit will be filed on behalf of the State. In these cases, the OAG will provide legal representation for the duration of the lawsuit.