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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


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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.


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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

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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

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Additional Resources

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.


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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.


This article was last updated on November 22, 2019.

Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
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5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014

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