Gun / Firearm Charges
Despite the common perception that the Lone Star State has little to no oversight of the sale or handling of guns, there are actually a number of Texas laws regulating firearms. The purpose of these laws is to ensure citizens possess and operate firearms without endangering the community. The most common gun charges brought in Texas include:
- Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
- Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
- Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
- Unauthorized Trafficking in Firearms
- Arrests at Bush International or Houston Hobby Airport
If you are charged with any of these firearm offenses, it is of the greatest importance that you seek legal assistance right away. A knowledgeable defense attorney will help you navigate the legal system. A conviction for a firearm charge might bar you from ever getting a license to carry a gun again. It is vital that you contact a competent attorney to assure that you maintain your right to carry a weapon.
Houston Gun Crimes Lawyer
Matt Horak is a former Harris County Assistant District Attorney who is board certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. With more than a dozen years of experience, he is dedicated to defending clients against all kinds of firearm charges.
Horak Law represents people all over the greater Houston area including Harris County and surrounding communities in Waller County, Liberty County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, and Brazoria County. If you are facing these types of charges, contact our firm immediately at (713) 225-8000 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.
Texas Firearm Charges Information Center
- What kinds of firearms are involved in criminal offenses?
- Does the Second Amendment offer any legal protections?
- How should less experienced gun owners protect themselves?
- When is possession of a firearm considered unlawful?
- Are convicted felons prohibited from owning guns in Texas?
- What is trafficking firearms?
- How does the open carry law in Texas work?
- Expunging Unlawful Carry Thanks to HB 1927
- Where can I learn more about firearm rights in Texas?
Types of Guns and Firearms in Texas
Texas Penal Code § 46.01 defines a firearm as “any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use.” A handgun is any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand.
Matt Horak handles cases involving all types of firearms and handguns, including the following weapons:
- Machine guns
- Semi-automatic firearms
- Short-barrel firearm
- Zip guns
Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms in Harris County
The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The actual amendment reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Several United States Supreme Court cases have clarified how citizens can use their right to bear arms. One of the most recent landmark Supreme Court cases included District of Columbia v. Heller 554 U.S. 128 (2008), in which the Court ruled that individuals unconnected to service in a militia have the right to possess a firearm, and citizens are allowed to use the firearms for lawful purposes such as self-defense.
Another landmark case two years later was McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010) further clarified the scope of the Heller decision. In McDonald, the Court determined that the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus applies to the state and local governments as well.
Despite the seeming sweeping nature of these court ruling, it is still important to find a lawyer with knowledge of all local and federal firearm laws. A Texas lawyer who is familiar with these Supreme Court decisions as well the opinions of local courts can tailor a unique defense to defend you against any firearm charges.
Firearm Safety Tips for Houston Gun Owners
Most firearm owners are safe and responsible people. It is still important for all new gun owners to keep a few best practices in mind to not only avoid criminal charges but also for the safety of them and others:
- Always keep the muzzle pointed away from people.
- Keep your firearm unloaded when not actually in use.
- A gun is not safe just because the safety is one. Treat a gun with the safety on carefully.
- Use proper ammunition for your firearm.
- Wear ear and eye protection when shooting a firearm.
- Do not alter or modify your firearm.
- Make sure you clean your firearm on a regular basis.
- Attend a safety class to learn how to handle your firearm.
- Store bullets and your firearm separately
- Invest in a gun safe if you are keeping firearms in the home.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Charges in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code § 46.04, people who have been convicted of felony offenses cannot lawfully possess firearms before the fifth anniversaries of their release from confinement or community supervision. Similar criminal charges listed under Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code include Unlawful Transfer of Certain Weapons.
These types of criminal charges frequently involve alleged offenders who did not knowingly break the law. It is important to seek legal representation for help exploring all possible defenses.
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Harris County
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a federal weapons charge. It is illegal in every state for a convicted felon to have possession of a firearm, and Texas is no different.
It does not matter if the felon actually uses the weapon or if the weapon is loaded or not. Just having the firearm in a convicted felon’s possession is breaking the law. Because both state and federal laws are involved it is important to contact a firearms defense lawyer if you have questions regarding your possession of a firearm.
Unauthorized Trafficking of Firearms in Houston
Unauthorized trafficking in firearms can encompass several federal offenses. Firearm trafficking can mean smuggling, weapons trafficking, possession of a weapon for the purpose of trafficking or transfer of a firearm without authority.
The punishments for these offenses can range from one year to a maximum of 10 years. It is important to consult with a lawyer about your individual criminal history. It is possible to incur more jail time due to a prior criminal history.
Constitutional Carry & Unlawful Carry Expungement
On July 2021, Governor Abbott signed a new bill into legislation named HB 1927, also known as the Permitless Carry Bill. The new legislation would not only allow Texans to open or conceal carry without a permit, but it also permits Texans with an unlawful carry conviction to expunge their record. According to the bill, any person convicted of an offense under Section 46.02 of the Penal Code before September 1st, 2021, can expunge their record at or past that date.
All you will need to do to begin the process is file a petition with the court. Since it’s civil court you’ll be referred to as the petitioner and the other party will be the respondent. Normally, the respondent is the law enforcement agency that arrested your or the county attorney that was assigned to your case. They may file to appeal your expunction, which if that happens then a hearing will commence. If the court finds you fit the criteria for expungement, then your record will be scrubbed clean and any and all records related to your conviction will be destroyed.
Harris County Firearm Crime Resources
National Rifle Association (NRA) — The NRA defends Second Amendment rights and is actively involved in protecting the rights of citizens to own firearms. You can learn more about NRA programs and find training classes, gun shows, and places to shoot or tournaments.
Texas Parks and Wildlife — This site gives information on Texas hunting licenses and permits. You can learn more about the dates of different hunting seasons, buying hunting licenses, and find answers to frequently asked questions.
Horak Law – A Gun Crime Lawyer in Houston
Have you been charged with any kind of a criminal firearm offense in the Lone Star State? Horak Law represents clients all over Houston, Texas as well as many surrounding areas, including Harris County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Galveston County, and Liberty County.
Matt Horak is a Houston criminal defense attorney who has experience representing clients at all phases of trial, from answering simple questions to fighting for the accused in court. You can receive a complete review of your case during a initial consultation as soon as you call our firm today at (713) 225-8000.