Fort Worth Weapons Lawyer
It’s no secret that gun ownership is common here in Texas. With over a million registered firearms, there are more guns in Texas than anywhere in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these are used responsibly for recreation and self-defense. Sometimes though, anything from mistakes to malevolence to misunderstandings can result in laws being broken. Weapons charges can bring serious legal consequences with long-term ramifications and should make good legal representation a top priority.
A Fort Worth weapons attorney can fight for your freedom and may see paths to exoneration that others might not. Call the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, PLLC at (817) 497-8148 or contact us online today.
Weapons Definition & Licensing
Weapons are commonly associated with firearms, but the term itself is much broader in the Texas criminal code. For legal purposes a “weapon” can also include a club or a knife whose blade is more than 5 ½ inches long.
Furthermore, there are licensing laws that must be followed. Texas allows more leeway there than many other states. A new law passed in September 2021 has eliminated the need for a license to carry (LTC) in public places. However, an LTC may be required near schools. Private business owners may also choose to restrict unlicensed carry on their property.
Common Weapons Charges in Texas
There is a wide range of ways laws can be broken (or alleged to have been broken) with weapons, and they range from misdemeanor offenses to felony charges. Here are some of the most common…
Unlawfully Selling a Weapons–Presuming you are a private seller, there are limits on who you can sell a gun too. You cannot sell a gun to a minor. Even if it’s your nephew who is 17 and more responsible than most adults. Selling a gun to a minor leaves you open to felony charges and jail time.
You are also restricted from selling to anyone with a protective order against them. A common example here would be someone whose ex has a restraining order filed against them. Even if you think the ex only intends to use the gun for hunting or self-defense, it cannot be sold to them. On a similar note, you cannot sell a gun to anyone with prior felony convictions on their record or who intends to commit an illegal act. And gun sales to people who are intoxicated is also prohibited.
Improperly Discharging a Gun–Texas law makes frequent use of the word “reckless”. In that regard, firing a gun in a way the court deems to meet the definition of reckless is a crime. Prime examples of this are firing a gun in the direction of one or more people or firing in the direction of a home, building or vehicle. Nor is it necessary for the gun to be fired for a crime to be committed. The simple act of pointing the gun at another person falls is reckless and can fall into this category of criminal violations.
So, let’s say some young adults are sitting around a fire one Saturday night, consuming alcohol and generally feeling in high spirits. A couple of them have their hunting rifles with them. Someone decides it might be a good idea to shoot the gun towards a nearby farmhouse. There’s no intent to shoot anyone. But both common sense and Texas law says this is reckless and the improper discharging of a gun.
The same goes if a couple of the young adults begin talking back and forth and one of them points their gun at the other. There does not need to be any intent to pull the trigger for this to be considered legally reckless.
Maybe the best way to sum up what’s reckless and improper under Texas law is to consider what is not improper.It’s legal to fire a gun while hunting, at a gun range or in self-defense. If you are outside of these circumstances, there may be legal consequences.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon–The person that uses or even displays a weapon during an assault can face charges that go beyond what would be levied for the assault.
An important clarification here is that assault itself does not require actual physical contact. The simple act of threatening someone else is considered assault (battery is when the person goes beyond threats and commits physical violence).
So, let’s consider a scenario where two individuals have gotten into a verbal battle after a high school football game on Friday night. The words are heated, but thus far nothing has happened to do anything more than just break it up. Then, one of the participants threatens to beat up the other person the next chance they get. Presuming the threat cannot be taken any other way then how it appears, the participant has committed an assault.
Then, they pull their jacket back to reveal a holstered gun. It’s not hard to interpret what is being communicated. The charge can now escalate to assault with a deadly weapon.
There are ways a good Fort Worth attorney can defend you against weapon charges. Call the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, PLLC at (817) 497-8148 or contact us online today.
Defending Yourself Against Weapons Charges
As with all criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. A good weapons lawyer is one who is aware of all the factors that can mitigate–or even eliminate–guilt, and who will force the prosecution to establish guilt. For example…
- When you sold that gun to your 17-year-old nephew, did you have written permission from the parents? If so, you are not guilty.
- When you sold the gun to someone who proved to be a drug dealer, did you have even the slightest idea they were into illegal activities? It’s the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that you did. If they can’t, you are not guilty.
- When you pulled your coat back to reveal your holstered gun, was someone else making threats that led you to believe that you or your family were in imminent danger? You can bring witnesses to attest that you acted in self-defense and win your case. Even if there aren’t witnesses, it is still the prosecution’s job to prove that you weren’t in any danger. And it’s your lawyer’s job to make sure any failure of the prosecution to do this is known by the jury.
These are just a sampling of the weapons charges that may be filed and defenses that might be used. Every situation is unique. Your defense lawyer needs to ask you the right questions, to make sure the complete portrait of what happened is understood and to see paths to exoneration that you might not be aware of. Your defense lawyer needs to tenaciously challenge the prosecution at every step of the process.
At the Law Offices of Mark M. Childress, PLLC we bring both a studious approach to the law and a fighting spirit to the courtroom. That’s what our clients count on when their record, reputation and even personal freedom is at stake. If you’re facing weapons charges, call us right away at (817) 497-8148 or contact us online to set up the initial consultation.
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