Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon
Although Texas gun laws continue to be some of the friendlier laws in the country for gun owners, there are limits on where, when and how a gun owner may carry a gun. The combination of the varied gun laws that exist from state to state and the sometimes unreliable information that comes from the media, tends to give rise to some confusion on the part of gun owners and, at times, some unexpected consequences.Understanding the Texas Unlawful Carrying Weapons Statute
Weapons offenses in Texas are generally governed by Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code. Section 46.02 establishes the elements of an offense for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (UCW) in Texas. The following are the acts prohibited by the UCW statute. These acts may constitute a criminal offense in Texas:
Carrying a handgun on or about your person if you are not:
- on your own property; or
- inside or en route to your car, truck or boat.
Carrying a handgun in your car, truck, or boat if you are:
- carrying the handgun in plain view (without a License to Carry);
- engaged in criminal activity at the time (ex. Driving While Intoxicated);
- prohibited by law from having a handgun; or
- a "gang member."
What constitutes a "weapon"?
The statute identifies three items that may constitute a weapon. They are a handgun, a club and a "location restricted knife" (a knife with a blade of 5 1/2 inches). A club is anything that is "designed, made or adapted" for the purpose of causing serious injury or death by striking the person with purported club. While it's not unusual that law enforcement may arrest or cite someone for possession of a club or a knife, the much more common enforcement occurs when a person is found in possession of a handgun. A handgun is simply a firearm that is made to be fired using only one hand.
Possible Penalties for Unlawful Carrying Weapon
In most instances the unlawful carrying of a handgun or club is a class A misdemeanor. This carries a range of punishment that includes up to one (1) year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.00. If, however, the offense is committed on a premises that is licensed to sell alcohol, then the offense may be elevated to a third degree felony which carries the potential for prison time. If you have been arrested for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, then you should consult a defense attorney experienced in handling these cases. We can help.Not Guilty
If our criminal defense attorney takes on representation in your case, the goal is to have the matter dismissed. We want to identify every possible defense in your case. We will work with you to develop a strategy that puts you in the position for the best outcome. We want to see your case dismissed or for you to be found not guilty.
Defenses to Unlawful Carrying Weapon
There are a number of potential defenses to the charge of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. The circumstances of your arrest dictate what defenses your criminal defense attorney asserts. Some of the more common defenses are:
- Alleged weapon was illegally seized;
- Handgun was not in plain view;
- No probable cause for search and/or arrest;
- Item was not a "weapon" under the statute; and
- Suspect was not engaged in "criminal activity."
The final defense mentioned above relates to a charge of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon where the charge is based on the assertion that the accused was in possession of a handgun while they were in the course of committing another criminal offense. This commonly arises in Driving While Intoxicated and Marijuana Possession investigations. Police make an arrest for DWI or Marijuana and find an otherwise secure handgun in the person's vehicle. If you are able to successfully attack the underlying offense, then you may secure a dismissal or not guilty verdict of the UCW charge as well.
An attorney experienced in handling these types of weapons offenses as well as the underlying offense may be able to help. Waren Price is a criminal defense lawyer with more than 20 years of experience. He can help you defend against a charge of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. Call us today.
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