In Texas, there are serious consequences for those convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon. However, the law is not as straightforward as it seems.
Many people carry firearms in Texas for a myriad of reasons, personal protection and hunting being just two. The law allows most people in Texas to carry these weapons when they have gone through the proper procedures to do so. In some cases, however, a person carries a weapon unlawfully. When that is the case, the prosecution and the criminal courts take the case very seriously.
A conviction for unlawfully carrying a weapon will result in jail time. It is for this reason that anyone facing charges should speak to a Travis County criminal defense attorney right away.
Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon Defined
The crime of unlawfully carrying a weapon, typically shortened to UCW, is defined under the Texas Penal Code 46.02. This statute defines the offense as intentionally or recklessly carrying a handgun or club that is in plain view. Individuals are allowed to carry a gun or club in plain sight if they are on their own property or inside or en route to a motor vehicle or boat that they own, or that is under their control.
For the prosecution to press charges, the person unlawfully carrying a weapon must be engaged in criminal activity, unless it is a Class C misdemeanor associated with a traffic or boating offense. Other individuals that may face charges of UCW are those prohibited from possessing firearms, or members of a criminal street gang.
Exemptions Under the Law
Texas is known for being a firearm-friendly state. As such, there are many people exempt from UCW charges under the law. These include:
● Law enforcement officers
● Court officials
● Certain members of the military
● Individuals who are traveling
● Fishermen and hunters
● Security guards and officers
● Individuals with a handgun license
● Individuals with an alcohol beverage permit
● School security guards who carry a club
● Animal control officers, in certain circumstances
● Individuals involved in historical reenactments
Although individuals who have obtained a license to carry their handgun are exempt from the law, it is important they understand there are still certain laws and limitations on their right to carry.
UCW, CHLs, and LTCs
In Texas, a person may obtain one of two licenses that allow them to lawfully carry their weapon on their person in public. One of these is a concealed handgun license (CHL), which allows a person to carry a handgun out of sight of anyone else. The other is a license to carry (LTC), which allows a person to carry a handgun in a shoulder or belt holster.
According to Penal Code Section 46.035, individuals with a LTC cannot carry their gun unless it is in an appropriate holster. When entering the property of an institution of higher learning, a person cannot make the gun visible at all. This applies even if the gun is in a holster.
The law also states that handguns are prohibited in certain areas at all times, regardless of a person’s license status. These places include:
● Institutions of higher learning, if handguns are prohibited
● On premises that have a liquor license and that acquire more than 50% of their income from the sale of alcohol
● On the property of a prison or jail
● On the property of a church
● At amusement parks
● At certain government meetings
● While a person is intoxicated
When any of these laws are violated, a person may face UCW charges, even if he or she is a firearm license holder.
Have You Been Charged? Call Our Travis County Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, you could face serious consequences. You will likely lose your firearm, and you could even go to jail. Our criminal defense lawyers in Travis County are here to help ensure that does not happen. If you are facing charges, call us today at (512) 474-9999. After reviewing your case, we will craft a solid defense to give you the best chance of success. Contact us today to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.