Do you need a weapons defense attorney to defend your gun charges?
Have you been charged with a crime involving a handgun or other firearm? Texas has over a dozen laws specifically dealing with firearms and other weapons. There are also a number of offenses that carry higher classifications and potential penalties if you are armed while committing the crime.
To get an honest evaluation of the case against you, contact Nathaniel Pitoniak for a free, initial consultation.
Crimes Relating to the Possession and Use of Firearms
Texas generally does not require a permit to purchase or own a handgun or other firearm (rifle, shotgun). On the other hand, there are a number of legal restrictions on where and how guns are carried, transferred and stored. They include:
- Unlawful carrying of a firearm. It is illegal to carry a handgun unless you are on your own property (or property under your control), or en route to a motor vehicle or boat which you own, or which is under your control. It is also illegal to carry a handgun in a vehicle or watercraft if the handgun is in plain view (unless you have a carry license and the gun is in a holster). Finally, it is unlawful to carry a handgun if you are engaged in criminal activity (other than a minor traffic violation), if you are a “prohibited possessor,” or if you are a member of a criminal street gang. While some of these offenses are misdemeanors, other factors may lead to a felony charge.
- Carrying a firearm in a prohibited place. It is generally illegal to carry a firearm (a) on school property or in a school transportation vehicle without written authorization from the school or (in the case of an institution of higher education) a concealed carry permit, (b) at a polling place on election day; (c) in courts or government offices without written authorization, (d) at a racetrack, (e) at a secure area in an airport, or on the premises of a church or other house of worship, among others. Some violations of this section or third degree felonies, and others are Class A misdemeanors.
- License holder displaying a firearm in a public place. It is an offense for a concealed carry license holder to publicly display a handgun in certain places such as schools or roadways. These offenses are classified as either third degree felonies or Class A misdemeanors.
- Prohibited possessors. Certain persons are prohibited from possessing firearms because of prior convictions. In most cases, a person convicted of a felony or a family violence misdemeanor may not possess a firearm until 5 years after their release from confinement, parole, or supervision, whichever is later. In the case of a prior felony, after the expiration of the 5 year period, the person may only possess a firearm at his or her residence.
- Unlawful transfer of a firearm. It is prohibited to transfer (sell, lease, give, etc.) a firearm (a) to anyone to use in the commission of an unlawful act; (b) to a child under the age of 18; (c) to an intoxicated individual; or (d) to a prohibited possessor. In addition, a person who is the subject of a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or otherwise receiving a firearm. These are Class A misdemeanors, except the transfer of a handgun to a minor, which is a state jail felony.
Additional related offenses also exist, as do exceptions to these rules, the most obvious one being possession of a firearm by a peace officer. There are also sentencing enhancements in some cases.
Other Crimes Involving Use of Firearms
There are many crimes which carry more severe penalties and/or higher classifications when a gun or other firearm is involved. Some refer to “deadly weapons,” which, under section 1.07(a)(17) of the Penal Code, include firearms. Examples include:
- Armed robbery. If you use a firearm while committing a robbery, the offense is aggravated robbery, a felony of the first degree.
- Aggravated kidnapping. Use of a firearm during a kidnapping makes the offense aggravated kidnaping, also a felony of the first degree.
- Assault with a deadly weapon. Assault with a deadly weapon is aggravated assault, which is either a first degree or second degree felony.
- Aggravated sexual assault. Use of a deadly weapon during a sexual assault constitutes aggravated sexual assault, a felony of the first degree.
As these examples demonstrate, the use of a deadly weapon, including a gun or other firearm, can significantly increase the severity of many offenses.
Defense of Gun Charges in Houston, TX
The gun laws in Texas can be confusing. They cover whether you can possess a firearm, where and under what circumstances you can possess it, and how possession and/or use can affect other crimes.
If you are facing a gun charge, get the help you need. Call the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak and speak to an experienced gun crimes lawyer. Your initial consultation is free.