Gun ownership is a fundamental part of Texas culture, and it’s true that tens of thousands of Texans use guns for hunting, sport, and self-protection. Unfortunately, if you’re convicted of a felony, either a state or federal conviction, your gun ownership rights could be affected. What does Texas law say about felons owning guns? Will you be able to buy a gun after you’ve served your time? A San Marcos, TX, criminal defense attorney can advise you about your rights to possess a firearm or weapon and offer insight into whether those rights could be restored.
Texas Laws Regarding Gun Ownership for Convicted Felons
The Texas Penal Code covers weapons ownership and possession laws in the Lone Star State. These statutes include definitions of “firearm,” “handgun,” and other weapons. It also sets forth situations where someone may not lawfully possess a weapon or firearm.
However, Texas law provides an opportunity for felons to own a firearm. If it’s been at least five years since they completed the sentence issued on their conviction of the initial felony offense or were released from parole, then there are situations in which they may legally own weapons.
What Does Possession of a Firearm Mean?
Texas law prohibits convicted felons from knowingly or intentionally carrying a handgun on their person in public. That is considered being in possession of a firearm. A convicted felon may also be considered in possession if:
They own the firearm or are in control of the firearm. For example, if you buy a gun at a gun show and take it home, you are considered to possess it. Or, if you have control over a firearm, even if you don’t own it, you are still considered to be in possession of the firearm. For example, if you borrow your friend’s gun and take it target shooting, you’re considered to be in possession of the firearm, even if you are not the legal owner of the gun.
If you could reasonably have known about the presence of a firearm in something you have control of, like a bag or car, then you may be considered to be in control of the firearm. For example, if you know that your mother carries a gun in her purse and asks you to hold her bag, you could be considered to be in possession of the firearm.
Finally, you must be in possession of the gun outside your home. If it’s been more than five years since the completion of your sentence or parole for your felony conviction, then Texas law (Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Sec. 46.04) permits you to be in possession of a gun as long as you’re on your own property.
Felony Charges and Gun Ownership
Many felony charges are serious and involve significant harm done to another person. Many felonies include violent acts or may have aggravating factors, like using a weapon in the commission of a crime.
For example, common felonies in Texas are:
- Armed robbery
- Manslaughter or murder
- Aggravated assault or aggravated battery
- Sexual assault
Federal Versus Texas State Laws Regarding Gun Ownership for Felons
Federal law prohibits convicted felons from owning or possessing a firearm. However, Texas law permits someone with a felony conviction to possess a firearm under limited circumstances. This can quickly get confusing, as even if someone is in compliance with Texas laws regarding gun ownership after a felony conviction, they could still be convicted of a federal crime for possessing a gun.
The federal policy permits state laws to override federal laws with regard to this difference (depending on the nature of the conviction). So, if you were convicted of a felony, you can still own a gun in Texas, but you must keep it at your home. Additionally, you may not be able to possess the firearm in other states. So, if you move out of Texas, you may be unable to keep your gun.
This is why working with an experienced Texas criminal lawyer who knows the gun possession statutes is important.
Can I Have My Gun Ownership Rights Restored in Texas?
Texas law outlines the conditions under which convicted felons may have their gun rights restored. They must wait until at least five years have passed since their sentence was completed after their felony conviction, and the gun must remain on their property.
Currently, Texas law still doesn’t permit someone with a felony conviction to take their gun off their property. So, you can’t take it to a firing range unless you own the firing range and it sits on your home property.
What Is the Penalty for a Convicted Felon Possessing a Firearm in Texas?
Your charge for unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon depends on the circumstances under which you were in control or possession of the weapon. You could face:
- A third-degree felony with fines of up to $10,000 and up to ten years in prison
- A class A misdemeanor, with fines of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail
If there are aggravating circumstances, the third-degree felony could be bumped up to a second-degree felony.
If I’ve Been Convicted of a Felony, Can I Live with Someone Who Owns a Firearm?
This part of Texas law can get tricky. If it’s been less than five years since you completed the sentence imposed because of your felony conviction, and your spouse, roommate, or parent owns a gun, then it could be argued that you may potentially be in possession of the firearm. If you know of the firearm and could reasonably come into control of it, you may be considered to possess it.
If you’re concerned about running afoul of Texas firearm laws, then you should probably talk to a lawyer about how to protect yourself.
How Can a San Marcos, TX, Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me Get My Gun Rights Back?
Has it been at least five years since you completed the sentence imposed because of your felony conviction? Do you have questions about what kind of weapons you can possess? Contact the Law Office of Case J. Darwin Inc. today for a consultation about your case and your legal rights.