Texas law and federal law have several weapons offenses. Commonly charged weapons offenses include:
Punishments for weapons cases can be severe. Recently, to stem the tide of firearms going from the U.S. to Mexico for use in the drug trade, the government has increased prosecutions for “straw man,” purchases or when someone buys a firearm for someone else.
Luckily, weapons cases give rise to several defenses.
Often, a challenge to the search and seizure of the weapon can be made. If the arresting officer did not have a constitutionally permissible reason to detain and search you when he found the weapon, your case may be able to be thrown out.
For example, if an officer stops you in your car and finds an illegal weapon, but the officer did not have cause to stop your vehicle, the evidence seized (the weapon) can possibly be excluded.
Another defense to weapons cases is possession. Sometimes the government may not able to prove the weapon was in your care. For example, you share a house with other roommates where a weapon is found. The government will have to link the weapon to you.
In 2007, the Legislature made an important change to this Texas law. A person in Texas may now carry a handgun in their car if he meets certain requirements.
The requirements are: the handgun cannot be in plain view; the person cannot be engaged in any criminal activity, the person cannot be prohibited from carrying a weapon by any other law; the person cannot be a member a criminal street gang.
The overall effect of this law is that many Texans can now carry a concealed firearm in their vehicle without a concealed handgun license.
Unfortunately, the law has not filtered down to many police officers. I still see arrests for citizens lawfully carrying a weapon in their vehicle.