Humanities › History & Culture Texas State Laws on Flag Burning, Desecration, Abuse Share Flipboard Email Print TimothyJ / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 History & Culture American History Basics Important Historical Figures Key Events U.S. Presidents Native American History American Revolution America Moves Westward The Gilded Age Crimes & Disasters The Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Austin Cline Atheism Expert M.A., Princeton University B.A., University of Pennsylvania Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. our editorial process Austin Cline Updated January 23, 2020 In Texas, it is a misdemeanor if someone "intentionally or knowingly damages, defaces, mutilates, or burns the flag of the United States or the State of Texas." A "flag" includes any "emblem, banner, or other standard or a copy of an emblem, standard, or banner that is an official or commonly recognized depiction of the flag of the United States or of this state and is capable of being flown from a staff of any character or size" but does not include "a representation of a flag on a written or printed document." Texas Penal Code 42.11. Analysis of the Law Texas was the source of the infamous Texas v. Johnson Supreme Court decision which upheld people's right to burn American flags. At the time, the law made it a misdemeanor for someone to knowingly desecrate "a state or national flag," where desecrate was defined as "deface, damage, or otherwise physically mistreat in a way that the actor knows will seriously offend one or more persons likely to observe or discover his action." There isn't much difference between the law that was held unconstitutional in 1989 and the law which currently sits on the books in Texas. Now, as then, the crime is located not so much in the act as it is in causing negative reactions in others. You aren't guilty of flag desecration in Texas if you burn a flag and no one is offended; you only become a criminal when others take offense.