Texas is known for having some of the most pro-gun laws. It is also home to the largest number of gun owners in the U.S. However, not everyone in Texas is legally allowed to purchase and/or own a firearm. Texas firearm laws impose restrictions on carrying firearms, even those lawfully owned, in public places. There are two different criminal charges for unlawful possession of a firearm — unlawful possession and criminal possession.
Texas Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code prohibits the unlawful carrying of a firearm for those in the following circumstances:
The firearm is in plain view
The defendant committed a crime while carrying a firearm
Carrying a firearm despite a court order prohibiting you from doing so
Carrying a firearm if you are affiliated or associated with a criminal gang
A common example of unlawful possession of a firearm would be a person having a firearm with them while in a bar or another restaurant that sells alcoholic beverages. In Texas, unlawful possession of a firearm is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail and a penalty of up to $4,000. However, under certain circumstances, unlawful possession of a firearm is charged as a more serious three-degree felony. The punishment for a third-degree felony is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Criminal Possession of a Firearm in Texas
Criminal possession of a firearm is more serious than unlawful possession, although the wording of both offenses is similar. Under Texas law, a criminal possession charge can occur when:
A person owns or carries a firearm after being served with a restraining order
A defendant was convicted of domestic assault and owns or carries a firearm within five years from the date the sentence was discharged
A defendant was convicted of a felony and owns or carries a firearm within five years from the date the sentence was discharged
A defendant was convicted of a felony and owns or carries a firearm at a different location, other than his or her home, irrespective of how long the sentence has been discharged
When a defendant owns or carries a firearm after a domestic violence conviction or being served with a restraining order, they will face a Class A misdemeanor. On the other hand, if a person owns or carries a firearm after a felony conviction, the defendant will face a third-degree felony. The most serious charge involves carrying a firearm after a felony conviction. Doing so is a third-degree felony in Texas.
Contact a Firearm Attorney in Texas
If you are facing a firearm-related criminal charge, you could have serious consequences. You risk losing your right to own a firearm if you are convicted of one of these offenses and other negative consequences. Contact the Dallas firearm attorneys at Abel Law Firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.