Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer Fighting Gun and Weapon Crimes In Fort Worth, Texas
Are you or someone you know facing a gun charge or weapons charge in Fort Worth or a surrounding city in Tarrant County, Texas? If so, you need a team of criminal defense attorneys experienced in handling gun and weapons charges who can effectively represent you and help you get your gun or weapons charge dismissed.
If you have been charged with a weapons offense in the Fort Worth area, it is likely that you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges that, if convicted, could result in life changing circumstances. Your liberty is at risk! It is critical that you hire an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and knows the judges and prosecutors in the Tarrant County criminal justice system.
What Is Texas Law Regarding Possession Of Guns And Other Weapons?
First, let us examine the change in Texas Gun Laws that occurred in September 2021. Prior to September 2021, in order to get a license to carry a handgun, you were required to pass a background check, complete a gun safety course, and prove that you are capable of safely and properly firing a handgun. If you had a questionable criminal history, the State of Texas could reject your application.
However, effective September 2021, individuals 21 years of age and older can legally possess a handgun without a license to carry outside their homes and/or vehicles. It is important to understand that although you must be 18 years of age or older to PURCHASE a gun, there is no age requirement related to possessing a firearm.
What if you have been arrested for illegal gun possession? Do you have a criminal defense to provide a dismissal of the charges? In order to adequately prepare for your criminal defense of a weapons charge, you must first examine what Texas criminal law defines as a weapons crime. Normally, this will involve the concept of possession and whether the State of Texas can affirmatively link the weapon to you. Let us examine the Texas Penal Code definitions of weapons crimes in Texas:
Unlawful Carrying Of A Weapon Laws In Texas
If you are being charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon, you could be facing a jail sentence or a long probation that could affect your employment and clean criminal record. Generally speaking, it is against the law to carry a handgun, illegal knife, or club in “plain view” if you are not on your own premises or property.
Texas Penal Code §46.02 states that a person commits the offense of unlawful carrying of a weapon if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
- on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
- inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
A person commits this offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at any time in which:
- the handgun is in plain view; or
- the person is:
- engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic;
- prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or
- a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01.
The most common scenario we find clients arrested and charged with Unlawful Carrying a Weapon is when they were pulled over for Driving While Intoxicated or suspicion of drug possession. For example, we have had many clients with a concealed carry license that were pulled over and ultimately arrested for DWI. It was not a crime to carry a gun in the car. However, the moment the officer believed they committed the additional crime of DWI, Texas law permitted the arrest for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (UCW).
Legal Consequences Of Unlawful Carrying Of A Weapon (UCW)
Under Texas criminal law, the crime of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face up to one year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine. If you are a first-time offender, you will likely avoid jail time but could face a probation term of up to 2 years, along with court costs, probation fees and the cost of classes or other requirements.
Possession of A Prohibited Weapon Charges
Texas Penal Code §46.05 states that a person commits the offense of possession of a prohibited weapon if he intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:
- an explosive weapon;
- a machine gun;
- a short-barrel firearm;
- a firearm silencer;
- a switchblade knife;
- armor-piercing ammunition;
- a chemical dispensing device; or
- a zip gun.
The punishment for possession of a prohibited weapon is a third-degree felony, punishable by a term in prison of not less than 2 years but up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if the prohibited weapon is a switchblade knife or knuckles, the crime will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Criminal Defenses To Gun And Weapons Crimes In Texas
If you have been charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon or possession of a prohibited weapon, it is critical that you hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney with a prove track record of developing winning defense strategies for weapon crimes. We will take a few minutes to examine possible legal defenses.
Lack of Criminal Intent
In order to be convicted, the State of Texas is required to prove that you “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” carried the gun or weapon. What if the weapon in your vehicle was not registered to you and you had no knowledge that the weapon was in the car?
For example: we have represented clients that were arrested for unlawful carrying of a weapon because a gun was found in a car, they were riding in. Because the gun was in close proximity to the client, the police immediately imputed criminal intent to the client and arrested them for unlawful carrying of a weapon. If other people were in the car, an aggressive criminal attorney can argue to the prosecutor that criminal intent cannot be proven.
You Were On Your Own Premises
Were you at your premises or a place under your control at the time the weapon was found? If so, the police may have wrongfully arrested you for the crime of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. We have seen this happen when the police arrive at a business location and arrest someone for possessing a weapon. If it was your business or the premises was under your control at the time, your criminal lawyer should gather evidence to help establish a crime has not occurred.
You Were Innocent Of The Underlying Criminal Offense
This is one of the most common legal defenses that can be successfully used to obtain a dismissal for unlawful carrying of a weapon. If you were arrested for unlawful carrying a weapon because the police believed you were intoxicated, this should be one of the primary defenses your criminal defense lawyer should examine.
For example, the police pull you over for DWI, search you and your car and arrest you for DWI and UCW. Upon completion of the investigation, it is determined that your blood alcohol level was under 0.08. Should you have to take a plea to unlawful carrying of a weapon? NO! If the State of Texas, through the district attorney’s office, is unable to prove the underlying criminal offense that was the basis of your arrest, they will be required to also dismiss your unlawful carrying of a weapon case as well.
As such, we have had a number of DWI cases that have gone to trial and upon a not guilty verdict, the unlawful carrying of a weapon was also required to be not guilty because the crime was predicated upon the guilt of the underlying crime of DWI. If you are innocent of the underlying crime, you should be innocent of unlawful carrying a weapon also!
Lack Of Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
Did the police conduct a thorough investigation? Can the prosecutor prove criminal intent? Can they prove the underlying offense that was the basis of the arrest? Did you exercise care, custody or control over the gun or weapon when the police found it? All of these issues should be examined thoroughly by your criminal defense attorney.
The best criminal attorneys know that the State of Texas always maintains the burden to prove a criminal case. In fact, the government must always prove a criminal case by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard is the highest standard in the United States legal system and is designed to ensure the government does not convict an innocent person.
You are always entitled to a criminal jury trial. If the State of Texas cannot prove the crime of unlawful carrying of a weapon or possession of a prohibited weapon beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be exonerated and entitled to a full expunction of your criminal record!
Fort Worth Weapons Charges Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a weapons offense in Fort Worth, Arlington or in Tarrant and surrounding counties, you need a skilled Fort Worth criminal lawyer. A weapons conviction could carry with it the possibility of jail time.
At the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. our goal is to prevent jail time and to achieve a result that helps you clear your criminal record. Do not gamble with your freedom and your future!
At Fulgham Law Firm P.C., you will find a Fort Worth criminal law practice focused on passionately defending the accused. You will work with a team of Former Prosecutors with over 80 years of combined criminal law experienced and over 500 criminal jury trials in the courts of Contact our Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas. Do not hesitate to contact our office now at 817-886-3078 for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Fort Worth criminal attorney.
Call us right now to get help.
We have helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We will set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.