Texas has a well-earned reputation for being a bastion of personal freedom and this is perhaps nowhere more abundantly clear than in its ongoing support of gun rights. No state license is needed for the purchase of a rifle, handgun, or shotgun in Texas, though the owner of a rifle or shotgun must be 18 years of age or older or have the written permission of his or her parent. Since 2014, open carry has also been permitted in Texas, meaning that Texas residents can carry weapons openly in a holster or on their shoulder. Nonetheless, there are strong laws in place regarding who is allowed to carry a gun and under what circumstances. Don’t forget that Texas is also a law and order state that takes law enforcement very seriously, so the weapons charges that do exist carry harsh penalties.
If you are charged with unlawful possession or carry, it is important that you take immediate steps to protect yourself by getting in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney. In the vicinity of Houston, Jose Ceja, lead attorney of Ceja Law Firm PLLC is the man to see. Beyond his outstanding credentials, he has an impressive track record of courtroom wins and is known to provide sympathetic support as well as sound legal representation. He is acutely aware of how much is at stake for you when you are facing weapons charges and will fight powerfully and skillfully to protect your rights, your reputation, and your freedom.
What is at stake if you are convicted of a weapons charge?
While not a violent offense, a weapons charge is imposed to keep the public safe, so if you’re found guilty the penalties may be harsh. While the simple charge of “unlawfully carrying a weapon” (UCW) — defined in this case as a handgun or club — is a Class A misdemeanor, depending on where you are, what condition you’re in and what you’re doing at the time of your arrest, you may face more serious charges. The consequences of a weapons charge may include:
- Substantial fines
- Imprisonment or jail time
- Loss of your gun
- Loss of your right to own a gun
- Loss of your right to vote
- Travel difficulties or interference with citizenship applications
- Limitations on employment opportunities and professional licensing
- Restrictions to child visitation or custody
As you can see, a UCW charge can all too easily lead you into dangerous territory, interfering with your freedom, your ability to earn a living, your right to spend time with your children and your standing in the community. This is why you need a sharp weapons charge attorney like Jose Ceja at your side.
When Weapons Charges Don’t Apply
The fact that Texas is a very large state with lots of “wide open spaces” has traditionally meant that individuals are legally permitted to carry handguns on their own property for protection of their land, families, and livestock and this law still holds. Thus, people with licenses can carry firearms on their own property, including in their motor vehicles and watercraft. Texas has no laws regarding the carrying of long guns (rifles or shotguns) in motor vehicles and does not prohibit a child (under 17) from possessing firearms. If you transfer a firearm to a child, however, or prepare it for discharge, you yourself may face charges.
Although certain weapons are prohibited by state law in Texas — machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, silencers, guns with armor-piercing bullets, zip guns, and explosive weapons — in many ways Texas is more lenient than other states when it comes to gun laws. For instance, Texas does not have a waiting period for gun purchases and allows all qualified applicants to carry a concealed firearm as long as they have a permit.
Still, the fact that Texas is more gun-friendly than many other states can lull you into a false sense of security. Don’t take it for granted that the law in Texas will be on your side just because you are toting a gun. The reality is that Texans, like the rest of Americans, have been traumatized by the enormous number of shootings that have taken the lives of innocent victims in our country. These days people are much more likely to speak up if they see your gun and become alarmed. The police are also more likely to be hypervigilant about gun carry.
Crossing the Line on Weapons Charges in Texas
Though weapons charges in Texas are far less strict than in some other states, it is not hard to get caught for violating weapons laws you may not even know exist. For instance, according toTexas law, you can face weapons charges if:
- You are knowingly or recklessly carrying a handgun or club while in public
- Your handgun is in plain view in public (unless the gun is in a holster)
- You are engaged in criminal activity while in possession of a gun
- You are carrying a gun though you have been convicted of a felony)
- You are carrying a gun and you are a member of a criminal street gang
- You are driving a car or piloting a boat on which someone under your control is illegally carrying a weapon
- You have purchased a handgun and are under the age of 21
- You are carrying a gun on premises that derive more than 50 percent of its income from alcohol sales
- You are carrying a gun at a prison or jail, church, or amusement park
- You are carrying a gun while attending certain government meetings
- You are carrying a gun while intoxicated
Federal Gun Laws
Texans must obey federal gun laws in addition to Texas state statutes. Federal law makes it a criminal offense for those convicted of felonies to possess firearms unless they have received restoration of rights by the state in which they were convicted. Felons convicted of the most heinous crimes, such as criminal homicide, sexual offenses or domestic violence, cannot, however, be exempt and will continue to be prohibited from possessing guns. Certain misdemeanor convictions, such as those for domestic violence or firearms and explosives violations, also prohibit gun ownership under federal law.
Both state and federal laws concerning weapons charges are complicated by specific circumstances and exceptions. Only a weapons charge attorney with comprehensive, in-depth knowledge of state and federal gun laws will be able to clarify your options and identify your personal risks. If you have been charged with weapons violations, too much is at stake to try to bluff your way through. Make sure to contact Ceja Law Firm to give yourself the best possible chance of a successful outcome.
Contact Our Houston Weapons Charges Attorney
If you are charged with any offense involving weapons in the Greater Houston area, Ceja Law Firm can help. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Ceja is familiar with both prosecuting and defending weapons violations, so he is adept at creating the best possible strategy to defend you. Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, he may use one of the following defenses:
- You were not intentionally or knowingly carrying the weapon (e.g. your spouse put it in your carry-all)
- You were on a piece of your own property when the incident occurred
- There was no underlying criminal activity (i.e. there was a misapprehension on the part of law enforcement)
- You were previously arrested for, but never convicted of a felony
You can depend on Ceja Law Firm to protect your rights and to see the situation from your point of view. We will go to great lengths to keep you free of legal entanglements so that you can live your life with the safety and freedom you are entitled to. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can help extricate you from this predicament. If you or a loved one is charged with a weapons offense anywhere in the Greater Houston area, the Ceja Law Firm is a superb choice. Contact us today for a free consultation.