Unlawful Carry of Handgun by Licensed Holder
Texas allows responsible gun owners to obtain a firearms license so they can carry their weapon in public. However, the state has also implemented strict regulations for gun owners to minimize accidents and protect the general population. Violating these rules and procedure could lead to a criminal charge of unlawful carry of handgun by a licensed holder.
You have a right to own a gun, but storing, traveling or possessing it incorrectly could mean a criminal charge. Not to mention, the penalties are nothing to laugh at. A conviction for unlawful carry by a licensed holder could lead to a felony-level charge depending on the circumstances. If you or someone you know has been arrested for unlawful carry, then we suggest you call an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Attorney for Unlawful Carry of Handgun in The Woodlands, TX
Texas legislators has established harsh penalties for people who violate licensed handgun regulations. The reasoning for this is to protect Texas residents from gun-related accidents. If you or someone you know has violated licensed handgun laws, you may want to secure legal representation in case you’re charged with a crime.
Matthew Horak is a skilled criminal defense attorney with years of practice representing people accused of firearm or weapons crimes under his belt. He can collect evidence, call expert witnesses and do whatever he can to defend your case. Learn more by calling Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 today. Our offices are in The Woodlands, but attorney Horak practices throughout Texas such as Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Harris County, Liberty County and Montgomery County.
Overview of Unlawful Carry of Handgun by Licensed Holder
- What Are the Elements for Unlawful Carry by a Licensed Holder in TX?
- Texas Penalties for Unlawful Carry
- Defenses for Unlawful Carry by a Licensed Holder in TX
- New Defenses for Licenses Gun Holder in Texas
- Additional Resources
What are the Elements for Unlawful Carry by a Licensed Holder in TX?
The state of Texas permits people to carry a firearm with a license if they follow the regulations set forth by the Texas Penal Code. Failing to uphold these regulations is a crime and may result in a criminal conviction. Under Section 46.035, it states that a person cannot intentionally displays the handgun in pain view of another person in a public place. The only exception is if it was partially or wholly visible but carried in a shoulder or belt holster.
You can be arrested for unlawful carry if the gun is holstered and intentionally displayed on:
- The premises at an institution of higher education or a private/independent higher education facility and the gun was presented to another person; or
- In a public or private driveway, sidewalk, walkway, street, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area for a facility reserved for higher education
A higher education institution can also completely ban firearms on campus if they have established proper rules, regulations and signage to inform others. So, if an institution of higher learning bans firearms altogether you can be arrested even if your firearm is completely hidden or holstered in the correct manner.
Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carrying a handgun whether it’s concealed or in a holster on the following premises will also lead to a criminal charge.
- A business with a permit to distribute or serve alcohol if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages;
- At a high school, collegiate, or professional/scholastic sporting event unless the defendant is authorized to have that handgun;
- At a correctional facility’
- At a nursing facility unless the defendant has authorization;
- In an amusement park; or
- At a civil commitment facility
Intentionally or recklessly carrying a handgun to a meeting with a governmental entity for an open forum is also considered to be unlawful carry of a handgun. Even if the gun is completely concealed or carried in the appropriate holster.
Carrying a firearm intoxicated even though you’re a licensed gun holder and following the rules will lead to an unlawful carry charge. In addition, if you are a security officer you must also follow licensed gun holder laws. Violating them will lead to unlawful carry charges and could mean losing your livelihood.
Penalties for Unlawful Carry by Licensed Holder in Texas
Even if the crime didn’t involve violence or an accident the penalties for unlawfully carrying a handgun by a licensed holder are serious. In Texas, it’s a class A misdemeanor to violate licensed gun holder regulations. The maximum penalties for a class A misdemeanor include:
- Up to one year in jail; and
- A fine of up to $4,000
The consequences for committing the crime can be enhanced if a person intentionally, knowingly or carelessly, it can lead to a third-degree felony. The penalties surrounding a third-degree felony include:
- Up to 10 years in prison; and
- A fine of up to $10,000
Defenses for Unlawful Carry by a Licensed Gun Holder
The regulations and procedures for carrying a gun lawfully can be restrictive That is why Texas has established certain defenses for people who may have violated the procedures unknowingly or because of other factors.
Certain people can bring a firearm at restricted places for licensed gun holders. The people listed can bring a firearm in a bar, a business that sells alcohol, sporting event at a school, correctional facilities, hospitals, amusement parks or a civil commitment ceremony. These professions include:
- Active judicial officers;
- Attorney General, United States attorney, assistant to the U.S. attorney district attorney, assistant to district attorney, criminal district attorney, assistant criminal district attorney, county attorney or assistant county attorney
The charges also don’t apply to anyone working a historical reenactment performed in compliance with the rules of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as well as emergency services personnel.
New amendments to the Texas Penal Code in 2019 have expanded the scope for where licensed gun holders can bring their firearms. Now, a licensed gun holder can bring a firearm to a church, synagogue, or other house of worship. However, this doesn’t apply if the establishment has proper signage that shows weapons are banned on the property.
Other places you can now bring a firearm as a licensed gun holder that were banned previously include the following:
- The parking lot of a school locked in a vehicle;
- In a foster home if it has the appropriate lockbox for the firearms;
- During the first week if the governor declares a state of emergency; and
- In a leased apartment since landlords can no longer ban firearms on their property
New Defenses for Trespassing for Licensed Gun Holder in Texas
On September 1st, 2019, the state of Texas passed new laws which added multiple defenses that can be used in court if you’re charged with trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun. Under Section 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code, it’s now a defense to the prosecution that the license holder was personally given notice of oral communication and promptly departed the property after that signal.
In addition, various defenses were added to the Texas Penal Code 30.05 for the crime of criminal trespass. It’s now a defense to the prosecution for trespassing with a firearm if:
- You’re the owner of the apartment in a condominium regime;
- You own the condominium unit the crime happened in;
- You’re a tenant or guest of the owner; or
- You’re a guest of a tenant living in another’s leased home
The actor must have done one of the following to qualify for this admissible defense. These circumstances include:
- Carried or stored the firearm or ammunition in the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit; or
- Carried a firearm or ammunition directly en route to or from the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit; or
- Carried a firearm or ammunition directly en route to or from the defendant’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents of the property; and
- The actor is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm or ammunition
It’s also an admissible defense to the jury if the actor was a tenant of a manufactured home lot or the tenant’s guest and they were:
- Carrying or storing a firearm or ammunition in the tenant’s home; or
- Carrying a firearm or ammunition directly en route to or from their home;
- Carrying a firearm or ammunition directly en route to or from their vehicle located in the parking area provided for the residents of the premises; or
- Carries or stores a firearm or ammunition in their vehicle located in the parking area of for the tenants or guests of the tenants; and
- The actor was not prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition
Texans can also avoid criminal charges if they were entering a railroad switching yard or any part of a railroad switching yard and was at the time an employee or representative of employees exercising a right under the Railway Labor Act.
Handgun Licensing – Visit the official website for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to learn more about their handgun licensing program. Access the site to read up more on how to become a licensed handgun holder, how to find a certified instructor and legislative updates.
Texas Gun Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about their gun regulations. Access the site to find more information on gun procedures, how to store a gun, and the penalties for unlawfully carrying a gun with or without a license.
Gun Defense Lawyer for Unlawful Carry in Harris County, TX
If you or someone you know have been arrested for unlawfully carrying a gun with a license, it’s important you take these charges seriously. Although you are licensed, the penalties are still severe for unlawfully carrying a handgun. The state of Texas could charge you with a felony for simply forgetting to put away your firearm before entering an establishment.
Find an experienced and skilled attorney by contacting Horak Law. Matthew Horak has spent years defending people from numerous crimes including unlawfully carrying a gun by a licensed holder. Call (713) 225-8000 to learn more about our practice in the Harris County area and surrounding counties such as Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Liberty County and Montgomery County.