Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Texas

You have a 2nd Amendment right to possess a firearm– unless you fall into specific categories.

Those prohibited from possessing firearms in Texas include convicted felons, domestic violence perpetrators, and individuals subject to restraining orders. If you are in unlawful possession of a firearm, you will face serious consequences. Your 2nd Amendment rights are not, however, absolute. There are numerous exceptions in Texas law that make it illegal to carry a firearm. A knowledgeable Dallas unlawful possession of a firearm lawyer can help you understand the complexities of the law.

Fortunately, an experienced Dallas gun lawyer can help.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon

Texas Penal Code Section 46.04 makes it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. Specifically, you can be charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon or UPF Felon if you possess a firearm and:

  • Are a convicted felon before the fifth anniversary of your release from confinement.
  • Have been convicted of domestic assault, and it is before the fifth anniversary of your release from confinement or release from community supervision
  • Are a state employee under the order of a protective or restraining order that has not expired.

After the fifth anniversary from the end of your sentence, your right to possess a firearm is limited to your home. If you have been convicted of a felony, you cannot possess a firearm in Texas outside your home.

Texas vs. Federal Gun Laws

Federal and Texas laws prohibit certain categories of people from owning firearms. This includes people with felony convictions, domestic violence misdemeanors, and those subject to restraining orders.

Federal law covers broader categories of prohibited persons than Texas law and may have harsher punishments for violations. Federal firearm laws are enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and sometimes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Domestic Offenders & Unlawful Firearm Possession in TX

Both Texas and federal law prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm.

According to the anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence may not possess a firearm or ammunition for life. A misdemeanor for domestic violence includes:

  • Using or attempting to use force against a family or household member or
  • Threatening a family or household member with a deadly weapon.

While Texas law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of family violence (including a misdemeanor) within the last 5 years from possessing a firearm, the lifetime ban under federal law controls.

TX Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

In Texas, the penalties for unlawful firearm possession are determined by the individual’s prior convictions and the specific circumstances of their possession.

According to Texas Penal Code § 46.04(a), a person with a prior felony conviction is prohibited from possessing a firearm within five years of their release. If a felon is illegally in possession of a firearm (UPF Felon), it is considered a third-degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravating circumstances, such as prior convictions, firearm possession near a school, or membership in a criminal gang, may enhance the gun crime to even higher punishments. For individuals convicted of a Class A misdemeanor assault involving a family or household member, Texas Penal Code § 46.04(b) states their unlawful possession should be treated as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Collateral Consequences of Dallas Firearm Charges

Even if a UPF felon charge does not result in a conviction, it can have significant collateral consequences.

  • Professional Licensing Issues: Many professional licensing boards in Texas can deny, revoke, or suspend licenses based on criminal charges, even if not convicted. This could impact your ability to work in your chosen field.
  • Housing Difficulties: Landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone with a criminal record, especially one involving firearms. Finding housing could become more challenging.
  • Educational Barriers: Some educational programs or scholarships might restrict applicants with criminal backgrounds.
  • Employment Challenges: Background checks are common during the hiring process. A firearm charge, even if not a conviction, could make you a less favorable candidate for some employers.
  • Immigration Issues: Non-citizens with firearm charges could face deportation or difficulty obtaining citizenship.
  • Public Reputation: A criminal record, including firearm charges, becomes part of your public record and may be accessible to potential employers, landlords, and others.

Charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Dallas? Call Mike Howard

Attorney Howard strategically approaches every case to benefit its clients. As an experienced and successful Dallas firearm possession defense attorney, we will develop a strong defense plan customized to your situation that aims to reduce or dismiss the charges and keep your record clear.

From the moment you reach out to The Law Office of Mike Howard, you’ll be treated like an individual rather than a felon or domestic offender carrying a firearm. We understand how frightening a UPF charge can be. Mike Howard provides a personalized, compassionate approach to every firearm case. Our team genuinely values your time, energy, and trust.

Our Promise to All Our Clients

  • A clear explanation of your case and your legal options.
  • Your calls & messages are returned within one business day.
  • We’re transparent and upfront about our pricing.
  • We’ll craft a unique defense for your circumstances.
  • We know how to protect your rights.

Please visit our criminal defense resource center for more information about your rights and the legal process regarding Texas gun charges and more.

Defending Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in TX

Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon or domestic violence offender is serious. That’s why it’s essential to work with a gun charge lawyer, who can help avoid the worst outcome in your case. Some effective defenses commonly used in UPF cases in Dallas include:

 Lack of Probable Cause

The police officer who arrested you might not have had a legitimate reason to stop or search you in the first place. An attorney can argue that any evidence obtained through an illegal gun search and seizure should be excluded from the case.

Lack of Knowledge or Intent

You might not have known a firearm was present, mainly if it belonged to someone else or was hidden in a location you weren’t aware of.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm FAQs

Can a felony prevent me from owning a gun in Texas?

Texas law regarding felons and gun ownership is more lenient than federal law, but there are limitations. Under Texas law, you can possess a firearm in your home (but not outside it) if it has been more than five years since completing your sentence.

Are there any restrictions on where I can carry a firearm in Texas?

Texas has a reputation for relaxed gun laws, but there are restrictions on where you can carry. Some places where firearms are always prohibited include schools, polling places on election days, government buildings, hospitals, amusement parks, and businesses with proper signage.

What should I do if I’m arrested for unlawfully possessing a firearm?

If you are arrested for illegal gun possession in Dallas, you should remain silent and refuse to answer questions from the police. Request an attorney immediately. Don’t discuss your case with anyone, especially over the phone at the jail. Be respectful towards the police, but don’t cooperate with their investigation.

Can I restore my firearm rights?

There are potential ways to restore your firearm rights in Texas. You may seek a full pardon with firearm restoration if you have a lifetime ban. However, the governor does not grant many pardons, so the process can be expensive and lengthy. If you weren’t convicted of a domestic violence crime, then you have a five-year waiting period after which you can legally possess a firearm in your home.

Start with a Case Evaluation

Together, we can get your life back.

When you’re ready to take the next steps, attorney Mike Howard will discuss your situation and design a plan to deal with Dallas unlawful possession of firearm charges. Trust our experience, empathy, and ability to help put charges behind you. Reach out to a Dallas criminal defense attorney today.

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(214) 296-2221

Located in the Element Towers West Building at 3010 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, Texas, attorney Mike Howard handles criminal cases across Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Tarrant Counties at the state level and in the Northern and Eastern Districts at the federal level.