In Texas, Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (UCW) refers to the illegal possession of a firearm, club or illegal knife. This article will discuss the law as it relates to when it is legal and illegal to possess a firearm in Texas, which is covered by Texas Penal Code section 46.02 UCW. Under most circumstances, this offense is a class A misdemeanor, but there are circumstances where the punishment can be increased to a third degree felony. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000. A third degree felony is punishable by not less than 2, nor more than 10 years in prison, and a fine not to exceed $10,000. This article will also discuss the law as it relates to the possession of a firearm by a CHL or LTC holder, and possession of a firearm by someone with a felony conviction.
A person is prohibited from carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime greater than a Class C traffic ticket under Texas Penal Code section 46.035. If this occurs, you could be charged with a class A misdemeanor and have your gun seized by law enforcement. An example of this would be if you are arrested for the Class B offense of DWI or driving while license invalid, and you have a Texas issued LTC (license to carry) and are in possession of a handgun. The Officer can, and often does, arrest you for the underlying offense and also for the carrying of the weapon while committing a crime greater than a Class C traffic offense. The crime of possessing a handgun in this situation is a Class A misdemeanor. The UCW is often more serious than the underlying charge that predicated the original stop or arrest.
Generally, the punishment for UCW is a class A misdemeanor. However, the punishment range is increased to a third degree felony if the actor possesses a firearm where the establishment has been issued a license to sell alcoholic beverages by the State of Texas.
Public Universities are required by law to allow the carrying of a handgun, if the actor has a LTC issued by the State of Texas, on college campuses and in dorms. However, the President of the University has the right to create gun free zones. Private Universities are not subject to the requirements of this law.
Texas Penal Code section 46.035 applies to the carrying of a firearm by an individual who has been issued a LTC by the State of Texas. They may carry their firearm openly if it is secured in a belt of shoulder holster. This individual may not openly carry, even with a LTC, on high school or college campuses.
LTC holders are not allowed to carry firearms in designated gun free zones. This includes establishments that derive 51% or more of their income from the sale of alcoholic beverages, government meeting generally, a church, a hospital, an amusement park or a correctional facility.
Attorney Matt Bingham can evaluate the defenses against an Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon charge, depending on the details and facts of your particular case. The facts should be looked at carefully to see if it falls within the statutory definitions of the statute. For example, the definition of “premises” in the statute has been held to include the “building or a portion of the building”. It does not include a public driveway, street, sidewalk, parking lot, parking garage or other parking area, even if the parking garage or area is classified as a building. A lawyer defending this case would look closely at whether the actor has an undivided interest in the common area of a building where he possessed a firearm, such as a condominium complex. Another area that should be looked at closely is whether the actor actually has care, custody or control of the firearm, whether he was aware of his connection with the firearm and that he possessed the firearm intentionally and knowingly, which is all required in order for the defendant to be convicted of this crime.
If you’ve been charged with a weapons offense, you need a gun lawyer who can fight for you and argue persuasively on your behalf. Contact Attorney Matt Bingham today to schedule a professional consultation, and we will evaluate the details of your case and discuss your options going forward.