Texas’ reputation as a gun friendly state does not prevent courts from treating gun crimes seriously. While many gun possession crimes are misdemeanors, certain circumstances or types of firearm possession can graduate the offense to a felony.
Understanding Texas firearms statutes can help you plan your defense if you are facing charges. As you consider your situation, always remember that just because you are not guilty under state law does not mean that you are necessarily clear under federal law.
Felony gun crimes
According to Texas Penal Code, you may be facing a felony if you unlawfully possess a firearm in certain locations such as a bar or a place licensed to sell alcohol, or if you are intoxicated at the time in question. The safest place to keep a firearm in the state is at home, as the law explicitly protects most gun possession on the private property of the owner — even if you are renting the property or, under specific conditions, if you have a prior felony record.
A misdemeanor may also become a felony if your possession is related to the commission of another crime, or if your possession is reckless or threatening. A felon who unlawfully possesses a firearm may also be facing a felony offense, as well as anyone who provides a felon or other prohibited person with a firearm.
Possession of certain firearms in Texas can be a felony in themselves. For example, machine guns and short-barrel firearms are illegal under state law, and possessing one can be a felony in the third-degree.
Gun crimes defense
If you are facing felony charges for possession of a firearm, planning a strong defense could make all the difference. The defense you use will depend on the circumstances. If the firearm was not on your person, and other persons may have had access to it, you may be able to argue that the firearm did not belong to you or that you were not aware of its existence.
If you had the firearm on your person, you may need to take a different approach. Particularly in Texas, a court may be more lenient if you had the firearm in a situation when you were in danger or during a natural disaster or similar circumstance. In rare circumstances, you may even be able to use the defense that your possession was incidental to the duty of a law enforcement officer.