Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon
On June 16th, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1927 and passed what Texas now refers to as the “Permitless Carry Bill.” The new legislation will go into effect on September 1st and allow Texas residents to open carry without a permit. Texans will no longer have to apply for any type of licensure to carry a firearm. However, the bill does still prohibit firearms to convicted felons and those convicted of family violence.
While Texas is viewed as being a strong proponent of the gun rights of its residents, it is important to understand that state law still prohibits people from carrying guns or other weapons into certain locations. Some examples of these include bars, racetracks, or an airport terminal. Unlawful carrying of a weapon is commonly charged as a misdemeanor but can carry felony charges in some instances.
Attorney for Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon Arrests in Austin, TX
If you were recently arrested in Central Texas for an alleged unlawful carrying a weapon, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett defends clients facing weapon and firearm charges in West Lake Hills, Austin, Pflugerville, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Sunset Valley, Lago Vista, and many surrounding areas of Travis County.
Kevin Bennett is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Austin who will work tirelessly to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (512) 476-4626 to set up a free initial consultation.
Overview of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon Crimes in Travis County
- When will a person be charged with unlawful carrying a weapon?
- How does a person commit unlawful carrying of handgun by license holder?
- Where can I find more information about unlawful carrying a weapon in Austin?
Texas Penal Code § 46.02(a) has been amended under HB 1927 and that amendment will go into effect on September 1st, 2021. The statute now states a person committed unlawful carry if they did the following:
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carried a handgun; and
- Was younger than 21 at the time of the offense; or
- Has been convicted of an offender under Section 22.01 (a)(1), 22.07, 22.05, or 42.01(a)(7) or (8) in the last five years preceding the date the offense was committed; and
- The person is not
- On their own premises or premises under their control; or
- Inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft they own
- The person is not
Additionally, Texas Penal Code § 46.02(a-1) states that a person also commits the criminal offense of unlawful carrying a weapon if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by him or her or under his or her control at any time in which:
- The handgun is in plain view, unless the person is 21 or older or is licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411 of the Government Code and the gun is carried on a holster; 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 or boating; or
- They are prohibited by law from possessing a firearm
Either of the violations described above are classified as Class A misdemeanor offenses punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. Texas Penal Code § 46.02(c) establishes that any offense under Texas Penal Code § 46.02 can be classifies as a third-degree felony punishable up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if the alleged offense was committed on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Texas Penal Code § 46.02(a-2) and Texas Penal Code § 46.02(a-3) provide the following definitions relating to this statute:
- Premises — Includes real property and a recreational vehicle that is being used as living quarters, regardless of whether that use is temporary or permanent.
- Recreational Vehicle — A motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters or a vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle. The term includes a travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home, and horse trailer with living quarters.
- Watercraft — Any boat, motorboat, vessel, or personal watercraft, other than a seaplane on water, used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
The types of weapons mentioned in Texas Penal Code § 46.02 are defined as follows:
- Club, Texas Penal Code § 46.01(1) — An instrument that is specially designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with the instrument, and includes but is not limited to the following: blackjack; nightstick; mace; and tomahawk;
- Handgun, Texas Penal Code § 46.01(5) —Any firearm that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand; and
- Illegal Knife, Texas Penal Code § 46.01(6) — Either a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches; hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown; dagger—including, but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard; bowie knife; sword; or spear.
Can I Expunge My Unlawful Carry Charge in Texas?
For years, Texans who faced unlawful carry charges were unable to expunge their record. Now, thanks to the Permitless Carry Bill signed by Governor Greg Abbott, Texans will be allowed to expunge their criminal records of unlawful carry charges.
House Bill 1927 will go into effect on September 1st, 2021. The main proponent of the bill will eliminate the requirement for Texan residents to obtain a license to carry. Since there will be no requirement to carry past September 1st, state legislators also passed an amendment that would allow those with unlawful carry charges to expunge their records. The law can be found under the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 55.01(a), which states that:
- If you’ve been placed under custodial or noncustodial arrest for unlawful carry of a firearm, and you were either:
- Acquitted at trail; or
- Convicted and subsequently pardoned; or
- You were convicted of the offense before September 1st, 2021 under Section 46.02 of the Penal Code as the section existed before that specific date; or
- You were released and the charge, if any, did not result in any conviction, there was no court-ordered community supervision, and it’s no longer pending.
A license holder (meaning a person licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411 of the Texas Government Code) can commit unlawful carrying of handgun by license holder through any one of the following prohibited actions under Texas Penal Code § 46.035:
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(a-1) — Carries a partially or wholly visible handgun, regardless of whether the handgun is holstered, on or about their person and intentionally or knowingly display the handgun in plain view of another person on the premises of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education, or on any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education;
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(a-2) — Carries a handgun on the campus of a private or independent institution of higher education in Texas that has established rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns or on the grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by such an institution is being conducted, or in a passenger transportation vehicle of such an institution, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed, provided the institution gives effective notice;
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(a-3) — Carries a concealed handgun on a portion of a premises located on the campus of an institution of higher education in Texas on which the carrying of a concealed handgun is prohibited by rules, regulations, or other provisions established under Texas Government Code § 411.2031(d-1), provided the institution gives effective notice with respect to that portion;
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(b) — Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries a handgun, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed or carried in a shoulder or belt holster, on or about the license holder’s person on the premises of a business that has a permit or license issued under Chapter 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, as determined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission; on the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the license holder is a participant in the event and a handgun is used in the event; on the premises of a correctional facility; on the premises of a hospital licensed under Chapter 241, Health and Safety Code, or on the premises of a nursing facility licensed under Chapter 242, Health and Safety Code, unless the license holder has written authorization of the hospital or nursing facility administration, as appropriate; in an amusement park; or on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship;
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(c) — Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries a handgun, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed or carried in a shoulder or belt holster, in the room or rooms where a meeting of a governmental entity is held and if the meeting is an open meeting subject to Chapter 551 of the Texas Government Code, and the entity provided notice;
- Texas Penal Code § 46.035(d) — While intoxicated, carries a handgun, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed or carried in a shoulder or belt holster; or
Other locations Texans are not lawfully allowed to carry due to HB 1927 include:
- Polling places on the day of the election
- Premises of any government court or offices used by the court
- In or into a secured area of an airport
- Within 1,000 feet of the premises of the location where an execution will be executed by the Department of Criminal Justice on the day the sentence of death is imposed
- On the premises of a high school, collegiate or professional sporting event
- On the premises of a correctional facility
- On the premises of a civil commitment facility
- On the premises of a hospital or nursing facility licensed under the Health and Safety Code unless the person has authorization
- On the premises of a mental hospital
- In an amusement park
Alleged offenses committed on the premises of businesses derive 51 percent or more of their income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption or on the premises of a correctional facility result in third-degree felony charges. All other crimes listed above are Class A misdemeanor offenses.
Handgun Licensing | Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — Visit this section of the DPS website to learn more about Texas’ Handgun Licensing Program. You can download forms, read administrative rules, and find answers to frequently asked questions. You can also view recent news and various reports and statistics.
Chapter 411 | Texas Government Code — View the full text of the Chapter of the Texas Government Code that is referenced in multiple subsections of Texas Penal Code § 46.035. Subchapter H concerns licenses to carry handguns. Learn more about eligibility, applications, and notification of denial, revocation, or suspension of licenses.
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett | Austin Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon Defense Lawyer
Were you arrested for an alleged unlawful carrying a weapon or unlawful carrying of handgun by license holder offense anywhere in Central Texas? Do not say anything to authorities until you have first contacted The Law Office of Kevin Bennett.
Austin criminal defense attorney Kevin Bennett represents residents of and visitors to communities all over Caldwell County, Travis County, Hays County, Williamson County, and Bastrop County.
Call (512) 476-4626 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.