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Texas Human Remains (11-TX-b)

This flowchart illustrates the procedure a developer must follow when human remains are discovered on or near the project site. Local law enforcement must conduct an investigation into the death of the person, and is the primary contact.

Human Remains Process

11-TX-b.1 - Contact Local Law Enforcement

When human remains are discovered on the site, the developer must immediately notify local law enforcement.

11-TX-b.2 - Conduct Inquest

A justice of the peace must conduct an inquest into the death of a person who dies in the county served by the justice if:

(3) the body or a body part of a person is found, the cause or circumstances of death are unknown, and:
(A) the person is identified; or
(B) the person is unidentified;

CCP Art. 49.04

An inquest is an investigation into the cause and circumstances of death, and the determination, made with or without a formal court hearing, as to whether the death was caused by an unlawful act or omission. Whenever human remains are found and the cause or manner of death is unknown, an inquest is required. CCP Art. 49.01

The justice of the peace must conduct the inquest immediately or as soon as practicable after the justice receives notification of the death.

The justice of the peace may conduct an inquest:
(1) at the place where the death occurred;
(2) where the body was found; or
(3) at any other place determined to be reasonable by the justice.

CCP Art. 49.05.

11-TX-b.3 - Investigate Circumstances

A law enforcement agency that is notified of a death requiring an inquest under Article 49.04 of this code shall begin its investigation immediately or as soon as practicable after the law enforcement agency receives notification of the death. CCP Art. 49.05(d).

11-TX-b.4 - Have the Remains Been Identified?

If the human remains have not been identified, then the justice of the peace will be required to report the death to the appropriate organizations.

11-TX-b.5 - Report Death to the Missing Persons Clearinghouse and National Crime Information Center

A justice of the peace investigating an unidentified death of unknown cause must report the death to the missing children and missing persons information clearinghouse of the Department of Public Safety and the national crime information center not later than the 10th working day after the date the investigation began. CCP Art. 49.04(d).

11-TX-b.6 - Has Law Enforcement Conducted an Investigation or Has a Reasonable Time Passed

A justice of the peace may direct the removal of a body from the scene of death or move any part of the physical surroundings of a body only after a law enforcement agency is notified of the death and a peace officer has conducted an investigation or, if a law enforcement agency has not begun an investigation, a reasonable time has elapsed from the time the law enforcement agency was notified. CCP Art. 49.05(c).

11-TX-b.7 - Wait for Investigation or a Reasonable Time

If law enforcement has not conducted an investigation, then the justice of the peace must wait for such an investigation or a reasonable amount of time before taking further action.

11-TX-b.8 - Move Remains if Necessary

Following an investigation or reasonable amount of time, the justice of the peace will remove the remains from the project site if such action is necessary.

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