Expunging Unlawful Carry of a Firearm
Over the years, various Texan legislators have fought for the right to constitutionally carry, which is the right to open or conceal carry a firearm without a permit or license. For decades Texans were expected to complete various firearm courses if they wanted to open carry a firearm, and those who wish to conceal carry would need a specific permit for that as well.
All of that has changed thanks to the “Permitless Carry Bill” (HB 1927) which was signed in July 2021. The bill would allow Texans to open or conceal carry their firearm anywhere in Texas unless it was a prohibited area listed under the Texas Penal Code. Most importantly, the bill allows Texans to expunge their records of unlawful carry if they were convicted before the date of September 1st, 2021.
In Texas, citizens have been unable to expunge their records of unlawful carry since the 1970’s. A recent statement from the TDCAA (Texas District & County Attorneys Association) indicated that more than 130,000 people have been convicted of unlawful carry since the year 1974. The new legislation will help thousands and thousands of people struggling with the aftermath of their conviction can finally have a second chance for a clean record.
If you or someone you know was arrested, charged, and/or convicted of unlawful carry before September 1st, 2021, then it’s within your best interest to contact an attorney at Horak Law.
Houston Attorney for UCW Expungement | New Texas Unlawful Carry Laws
Unfortunately, having a criminal conviction on your record can have a tremendous impact on your life. Many people who have criminal backgrounds face added hardships while looking for employment, housing, and while applying for a professional license. The collateral consequences of having a firearms offense on your record are long-lasting and could potentially follow you for the rest of your life if you don’t act.
Now, you can finally move on from your past thanks to the passage of HB 1927. The bill allows any person convicted of an offense under Section 46.02(a) of the Penal code to expunge their record completely. That means the court will destroy any and all records related to your arrest, charges, and conviction. You can finally say confidently you were never arrested in a job interview and employers/licensing agencies will no longer have access to your record.
If you’re interested in pursuing expungement, call weapons and firearms attorney Matthew Horak at Horak Law. Attorney Horak has well over 60 criminal trials under his belt and has helped hundreds of people expunge their records completely. He can assess your criminal past to see if you qualify for expungement and guide you through every step of the process.
Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free. Horak Law is located in The Woodlands and Houston but accepts clients throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding counties including Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Waller County, Galveston County, and Montgomery County.
- Can I Expunge Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in Texas?
- How Do I Expunge My Unlawful Carry Conviction?
- Expungement vs. Record Sealing in Texas
- Sealing Unlawful Carry Convictions in Texas
- Additional Resources
Can I Expunge Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in Texas?
In the 70’s, the state of Texas made the decision to disallow expunctions for all convictions related to unlawful carry of a weapon. Legislators made this decision in an effort to deter offenders from unlawfully carrying weapons in the future and therefore decrease gun violence in the state of Texas overall. However, the legislation did not have that effect at all. What it did instead was leave thousands of productive everyday citizens with a permanent criminal record.
Now, all that has changed thanks to the Permitless Carry Bill, also known as HB 1927, which passed in July 2021. The bill states if you were convicted of an offense under Section 46.02 of the Penal Code before September 1st, 2021, you are eligible for expungement and can do so at or after that date.
According to the TDCAA, since the 70’s more than 130,000 people have been convicted of UCW (unlawful carry of a weapon). The new legislation will mean that on September 1st, 2021 thousands and thousands of people will finally have a second chance and can stop suffering with the collateral effects of their conviction. It will also mean Texans can “constitutionally carry” in the state. In other words, Texas residents will be allowed to open or conceal carry their firearms anywhere in the state of Texas unless it’s prohibited under the Penal Code.
How Do I Expunge My Unlawful Carry Conviction?
You will be eligible to expunge your record of unlawful carry on or after September 1st, 2021. The first step you’ll have to complete is to fill out the petition for expunction and then file it with the district court who had jurisdiction over your original charges. The expunction must be handled at the court where you were convicted, or the expunction cannot be competed.
Expunction proceedings are technically civil, so you will be referred to as the petitioner. The other party will take on the role of the respondent and usually that person is the law enforcement officer who arrested you or the county attorney assigned to your case originally.
You will have to bring all the necessary paperwork required at the hearing including any identifying information such as arrest records and proof of conviction with the date attached. The respondent will be given a 30-day notice of the hearing so they can choose to appeal. If they do choose to appeal, then they may arrive at the hearing and argue why the expunction shouldn’t be granted.
For this reason and more, we highly encourage you to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at the hearing. Your attorney can collect compelling evidence and counter the respondent’s arguments as to why expungement should be granted.
Ultimately, the judge will make the decision either during the appeal on in an ex parte court room. If the expunction is granted, then all files and records related to your arrest, charges, and/or conviction will be physically destroyed. Employers, licensing agencies, peers, and even government agencies will not have access to these records once the expunction is complete.
Expungement vs. Record Sealing in Texas
Although expungement and sealing your record sound similar, they are two distinct legal processes that produce different results. Whether you want to expunge or seal your record will depend on the circumstances of your situation.
If you expunge your record, that means no one will be able to access it in any capacity. Employers, higher education institutions, licensing agencies, your peers, mortgage companies, and even government agencies won’t be able to see any records related to your conviction after they’re expunged. You will also be legally allowed to deny any arrest, charges, or conviction on a job interview without fear if you expunge your record.
Sealing your record, on the other hand, will hide your arrest, charges and/or conviction to most public and private entities. Most employers and peers will not be able to access your record. However, some licensing agencies will be able to see your record including the Texas Education Agency and Medical Board. Government agencies will also be able to pull up your record and can use that information if you are arrested in the future.
Sealing Unlawful Carry in Texas
The new Permitless Carry Bill doesn’t address filing an order of non-disclosure for unlawful carry. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t seal your record of UCW. Your first step will be to see if you qualify for non-disclosure under the Texas Government Code. According to Section 411.0753 of the Government Code, you are eligible for non-disclosure if:
- The judge put you on deferred adjudication
- You completed every condition of the program
- You waited the appropriate time period to file an order of nondisclosure
- You weren’t convicted of any crimes between the deferred adjudication and filing the order of non-disclosure
The waiting period will depend on your charges. If the unlawful carry charge was a felony, then you will have to wait at least five years. Most UCW cases are charged as a misdemeanor though. So if you were charged with misdemeanor UCW then there’s no waiting period and you can file for non-disclosure the moment you finish your deferred adjudication.
HB 1927 or the Texas Permitless Carry Bill – Visit the official website for the Texas Legislature Online to look at HB 1927 also known as the Permitless Carry Bill. Access the site to see the authors of the bill, co-authors, the actions the bill went through in House and the Senate, amendments to the bill, as well as the signature by Governor Greg Abbott.
Unlawful Carry and Other Firearm Offenses– Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to read up on their laws for firearm and weapons offenses including unlawful carry of a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm. Access the site to read the elements, penalties, possible penalty enhancements, and other related offenses.
Houston Unlawful Carry Defense Lawyer | Harris County, TX
If you or someone you know is interested in expunging their record of UCW, contact the experienced and skilled legal team at Horak Law. Matthew Horak and his staff have the knowledge and skills needed to help you navigate the expunction process. We can assess your record to see if you qualify for expunction, file the petition, and represent you in court with supporting evidence at a scheduled hearing if needed.