Federal vs State Law
One of the rights that an individual might be forced to forfeit when they are convicted of a criminal charge is their right to possess firearms. In federal law, all individuals who are convicted of felonies, domestic violence charges, or any charge with a minimum sentence of one year are barred from gun ownership indefinitely. While there are some exceptions to this, such as in the case of presidential or gubernatorial pardons, this law is the default in many states.
Texas state laws diverge from federal laws in that the restrictions are not indefinite. Convicted felons are allowed to own guns, once five years have passed from the completion of their sentence. This is also the case for those convicted of domestic violence charges, with the difference that some individuals convicted of domestic violence charges have their rights restored as soon as their sentence is complete.
Firearms Restrictions for Convicted Felons in Texas
Texas state law is quite clear on the restrictions for convicted felons and firearm possession. Beyond the five year waiting period following completion of their sentence, a felon will face other restrictions when possessing firearms.
One instance of this is that it is an offense for a convicted felon to possess a firearm in any location other than their residence. This means that once convicted of a felony, an individual is no longer allowed to be in any situation where they can be found to be in control of a firearm. This could be a friend’s car with a friend’s gun, at a family member’s house, hunting, or anywhere other than the felon’s residence.
Penalties for Unlawful Firearm Possession in Texas
The standard penalty for unlawful firearm possession in Texas is up to a year in prison and up to $4,000 in fines and is classified as a class A misdemeanor. In some situations, the penalties are greater and can be classified as a felony of the third degree.
Can Full Firearm Possession Rights be Restored?
In most cases, a convicted felon will not have their rights restored. Restoration only occurs in cases where the offender receives a full pardon or proven to be innocent. Full expunction may also provide the opportunity to restore rights, and is often an offender’s best course of action. Other courses of action include seeking a full pardon from the governor or President, which are often more difficult to obtain.