Lawmakers have determined that certain types of weapons are the most dangerous. Some Texas laws are designed to assure that these weapons don’t end up in civilian hands. Other laws are in place to prevent weapons from entering certain areas, such as school zones or courthouses.
When these restrictions are violated, the punishments can be severe. If you have been arrested for weapons violations, or if you have questions about where and how you can legally carry a gun or firearm, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Houston Weapons Charges Attorney
Matt Horak has represented countless Texans in weapons charge cases. Mr. Horak has the experience and knowledge to answer all of your questions, help you assess the options, and represent you throughout the entire legal process.
If you have been arrested for carrying or using a weapon, of if you just have questions about weapons laws in Texas, call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000.
Texas Weapons Charges Information Center
- Which weapons are illegal to possess in Texas?
- Can I be arrested for lending or selling a weapon in Texas?
- What is a Weapons-Free School Zone?
- Where can’t I carry a weapon?
- Can using a weapon result in a more severe charge for other offenses?
- How can I find out more about weapons-related charges in Texas?
There are some weapons that you may not possess, manufacture, transport, repair or sell in Texas. These weapons are listed in Texas Penal Code §46.05 and include:
- An explosive weapon. This includes bombs, grenades, rockets or mines;
- A machine gun: any firearm capable of shooting more than 2 shots automatically, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger;
- A short-barrel firearm. This includes a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16” or a shotgun with a barrel of less than 18”, or any rifle or shotgun that has been altered to have an overall length of less than 26”;
- A firearm silencer;
- A switchblade knife;
- Brass knuckles;
- Armor-piercing ammunition;
- A chemical dispensing device, not including a small dispenser sold commercially for personal protection; or
- A zip gun: a homemade gun.
Of course, there are exceptions if you possess the weapon because you are in the armed forces or law enforcement, or if it is an antique or collectible. You should discuss all of these factors with your criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to assess whether you have a defense based on your profession and circumstances.
If you are convicted under §46.05, you may be charged with either a felony or a class A misdemeanor. This is in addition to other charges that result from where you were carrying the weapon, such as separate charges for carrying the weapon into a school zone.
It is also a felony for a convicted felon to possess a firearm under certain circumstances.
Depending on the type of weapon and who you are transferring the weapon to, you may face criminal liability for selling, renting, giving away or loaning out a weapon in Texas.
Under Texas Penal Code §46.06, it is an offense to:
- Transfer a handgun to a person if you know that person intends to use it unlawfully
- Transfer a handgun, club or knife to a child (under age 18) without parental consent
- Sell a firearm or ammunition to an intoxicated person
- Sell a firearm or ammunition to a felon before the 5th anniversary of their release from prison or parole
- Transfer a firearm to someone with an active protective order against them
- Receive a handgun while there is an active protective order against you.
You should never loan, give or sell a weapon to another person without doing a thorough check into their age, criminal history, and their intentions for using the weapon. If you have questions about whether you can lawfully transfer or accept a weapon, you should check with an attorney.
Weapons Free School Zones
If you commit a weapons offense in a school zone, the punishment for the offense is increased one level. For example, if you are found guilty of a class B misdemeanor, and the prosecution can show that you committed that misdemeanor in a school zone, you will be punished as though you were convicted of a class A misdemeanor.
Weapons Free School Zones include:
- Any area within 300 feet of a school
- Any area where an official school function is taking place (such as a school dance or field trip)
- Any area where an event sponsored or sanctioned by the University Interscholastic League is taking place
Knowledge is an important component of this law. The prosecution must prove that you knew that the area where you were committing the offense was one of the areas listed above. Your attorney can help you assess whether the prosecution can meet this burden.
Places Weapons Are Prohibited
Just as there are certain types of weapons which are prohibited in Texas, there are also certain places where weapons may not be carried.
Under Texas Penal Code §46.03, a person commits an offense if he carries a firearm, illegal knife, club, or one of the prohibited weapons listed above:
- In a school;
- In a polling place on election day;
- Into the courthouse or a courtroom;
- To a racetrack;
- In the airport; or
- To a place of execution, as designated by the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, on the day of an execution.
You need not know that you are carrying the weapon to be charged under this section. If your actions were reckless, then that is enough to be charged.
Similarly, it is a crime under §46.02 to carry a firearm, illegal knife or club off of your own property, unless you are en route to your car. It is also an offense under that section to have a weapon in your car if the weapon is in plain view or if you are engaged in a criminal activity (other than traffic violations).
You should always use common sense when carrying a weapon. Obey all signs and directives from law enforcement or security professionals, as well as the guidelines above. If you have questions or concerns about where and how you may carry a weapon, or if you have been arrested for or charged with carrying a weapon illegally, contact an attorney.
Aggravated Charges Due to Weapons
An aggravated crime is one that includes some element or act that the law finds particular dangerous. One of these aggravating factors is the use of a deadly weapon. Brandishing or using a weapon in the commission of a crime will often increase the charges and potential punishment.
Some common aggravated charges include:
- Aggravated Assault: assault + using or exhibiting a deadly weapon
- Aggravated Kidnapping: kidnapping + using or exhibiting a deadly weapon
- Aggravated Robbery: robbery + using or exhibiting a deadly weapon
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: sexual assault + using or exhibiting a deadly weapon
Like any other element of a crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the weapon was used or exhibited. Usually, an aggravated crime will be a first-degree felony.
If you have been charged with an aggravated crime due to the use of a weapon, you could be facing a serious penalty. You should contact an experienced defense attorney immediately to discuss your case.
Weapons Crime Resources
Texas Concealed Handgun Laws – Find information on selected Texas statutes published by the Texas Department of Public Safety for 2011-2012. Find information on the statutory classifications and penalties, as well as defenses to the various statutes.
Horak Law | Houston Weapons Charges Lawyer
Horak Law represent clients in Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas, including all of Harris and Montgomery Counties. Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak has experience representing clients at all phases of trial, from answering simple questions to fighting for the accused in court.
If you are located in Harris of Montgomery County and you need legal assistance regarding weapons charges, call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000.