Texas does not mess around when it comes to charging individuals for unlawfully possessing a weapon. Although the penalties for violating Chapter 10 of the Texas Penal Code are quite clear (i.e., you could face serious jail time if convicted), the actual law is rather confusing.
As a result, understanding weapons possession charges in Texas will save you a lot of second-guessing and will protect you from facing a criminal charge that you may not have known existed before being handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
The Definition Of A Weapon
The first step in understanding weapons possession charges in Texas is to understand exactly what the definition of a weapon is. There are obvious weapons under the Texas Penal Code, such as firearms and knives, whose definitions are relatively straight forward.
However, some weapons are not so clear. Weapons such as a “tire deflation device” better known as a spike-strip, or a “chemical dispensing device,”which is defined as something that projects a chemical that incapacitatesor causesan adverse neurological reaction (a personal mace canister is excluded from this definition), also fall under the criminal weapons possession charge.
Once you have figured out the true definition of a weapon as it pertains to Texas criminal law, the next step is to figure out how possession of such “weapons” can result in an arrest and a trip to the courthouse.
Lawful VS. Unlawful Weapons Possession
In basic terms, lawful possession of a weapon occurs when an individual possesses the weapon on their property or when they are traveling to their property, such as walking from the house to the car. Unlawful possession essentially covers all other forms of possession of a weapon where the individual either knowingly possesses the weapon or is even reckless in the possession of the weapon, even if there is an argument that the possession of the weapon may not have been intentional.
There are, of course, exceptions to both lawful and unlawful possession. For instance, if your firearm is in plain view in your vehicle, you may be subject to an unlawful weapons possession charge even though under certain circumstances, such as the firearm being in your glovebox,could be considered legal possession.
Further, if you are committing another criminal act except for Class C misdemeanor charges involving traffic or boating, you will also be subject to a weapons possession charge under Texas law.
A License To Carry Does Not Grant Absolute Immunity From A Weapons Possession Charge
Some Texans may argue that they are immune from a weapons possession charge because they have sought and been granted a permit to carry a firearm or other weapon openly. Although this does address much of the Texas Penal statute, this does not absolve them fully from criminal liability.
Weapons possession charges can be brought against an individual with a carry permit if they are in the process of committing another criminal offense at the time of the weapons possession. This is a common occurrence if law enforcement pulls over an individual under suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. If during this interaction, it is determined that the individual is intoxicated and is also in possession of a weapon, a weapons possession charge can be brought, which could significantly enhance the penalty imposed if they are convicted.
What Should You Do If Facing A Weapons Charge In Texas?
Facing a criminal charge in Texas is a stressful and difficult process that is full of uncertainties. What is important from the onset is that you begin to formulate an understanding of the severity of the criminal charge, and you formulate a general understanding of what law supports the charge. Although much of this research can be conducted on your own, there is no substitute for receiving the right counsel from the right legal ally at the right time.
You must utilize this counsel in the most efficient way possible. Come armed with questions, go through scenarios that involve the legal process, and figure out ways to best portray yourself in court to both the judge and prosecutor. This preparation process will go a long way in navigating the system in a way that will ensure that you get the best possible result you can for your weapons possession charge.
With over 30 years of experience in handling complex criminal defense matters, the Houston attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have the knowledge and experience to guide you through your Texas weapons charge. You can schedule a consultation by calling 713-229-9992 or by submitting an online form. Follow the Vinas & Graham Facebook page to receive additional information about Texas weapons charges and other criminal defense matters.