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Can a Felon Own a Gun in Texas?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Can a Felon Own a Gun in Texas?

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Texas is well-known for having some of the most generous gun laws in the country. However, this generosity does not necessarily extend to people who have been convicted of felonies.

If you have been convicted and served time for a felony, it is important for you to understand if and at what point you can own a firearm in this state. You must abide by the firearm possession laws in Texas as they apply to felons if you want to avoid being arrested for and sent to prison for violating them.

Defining Firearm Possession in Texas

Texas’s firearm laws have been tailored to define possession precisely so both law enforcement and former felons understand this term clearly. The current laws stipulate that law enforcement and prosecutors must prove several criteria before they can arrest you for and charge you with firearm possession. These criteria include proving:

  • You are the person who owns or possesses the firearm
  • You have been convicted of or finished a sentence for a felony in the last five years
  • You voluntarily possessed the firearm
  • Five years have not yet passed from the time you finished your sentence for a felony

If you can prove that the firearm belonged to someone else or you did not know it was in your home or vehicle, you may be able to get the charges against you dropped. You may also get charges dropped if you can show that you were not convicted of or served time for a felony or it has been longer than five years since your felony sentence ended.

To prove any of these facts, it can benefit you to retain an experienced firearms possession lawyer. Your attorney may be able to show evidence backing your innocence and get the charges against you dropped quickly. 

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Texas State Firearms Possession Laws

Texas does not entirely prohibit felons from owning firearms. The current laws actually allow felons whose sentences ended five years or longer ago to own firearms in their own homes.

However, the firearms must remain in the former felons’ homes. They can also only be used for self-defense purposes. It is not legal in Texas for a former felon to open or conceal and carry a firearm outside of his or her home.

If a felon is found to be in possession of a firearm outside of his or her home, regardless of how long it has been since the sentence end date, he or she can be arrested for illegal firearm possession. This charge can lead to serious legal consequences that may include going back to jail or paying steep civil fines.

With that, if you are a former felon who wants to own a firearm, you should make sure you only keep one inside of your home and use it if or when you must protect you or your family in self-defense. You should ensure you do not keep the firearm in your vehicle or on your person if you want to avoid being arrested for and charged with illegal firearm possession in Texas.

Felony Firearm Possession Laws in Texas 

Despite Texas’s state laws permitting you to own a firearm in your own home, federal law says otherwise. In fact, federal firearm possession laws clearly stipulate that no felon, regardless of how much time has transpired from his or her sentence end date, can own or possess a firearm.

Current federal law stipulates that it must defer to Texas’s state firearm possession law. Because Texas allows former felons to own firearms after five years of their sentence end dates, it may not require that you be arrested and charged.

Still, the possibility of you being charged with a federal firearm possessions crime may play into your decision about whether or not you should buy a firearm. You may want to avoid purchasing and owning one even if it has been longer than five years since your sentence end if you want to avoid facing a potential federal charge. 

Punishments for Felony Firearm Possession

Felons who are found to be in illegal possession of firearms in Texas can face a variety of stringent consequences. These penalties can result in you being sentenced to prison or paying expensive civil fines, if not both.

In fact, illegal possession of a firearm for a felon in Texas can be charged as a third degree felony. It can result in you being sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. It can also result in you being fined up to $10,000.

However, if you are someone who has been previously convicted of a felony other than a state felony, you can face second degree felony illegal firearm possession charges in Texas. A second degree felony incurs harsher penalties. These punishments can include up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

Given the severe penalties that you can face if you are a felon found to be in illegal possession of a firearm in Texas, it would benefit you to hire an attorney to represent you. An experienced firearms possession lawyer in Texas may be able to assist you in beating the charges or incurring less severe consequences if you are found guilty.

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Why Retain a Texas Weapons Attorney?

After you have served time in prison on felony charges, the last thing you may want to do is go back to prison and serve even more time. However, if you are convicted of illegal firearms possession in Texas, you might have to serve anywhere from 10 to 20 years behind bars, depending on whether or not you are charged with and found guilty of a second or third degree felony.

To ensure your side of the case is heard in court, you need to retain an experienced firearms possession attorney in Texas. This attorney can be instrumental in disproving the prosecutor’s case against you and showing that you did not commit a crime.

He or she may be able to show the court that you were not in possession of the firearm or did not know the firearm was in your home. Your attorney may also show your sentence ended more than five years ago and you were able to legally own a firearm.

With your attorney’s help, you may be found innocent of the charges against you. You also may avoid going to prison or paying a steep fine for having a firearm in your possession illegally.

Texas allows eligible former felons to own firearms in their homes to use for self-defense. However, these individuals must meet specific legal criteria to be able to buy and own a firearm.

If you are charged with and found guilty of illegal firearm possession in this state, you might have to serve a decade or longer in prison. You also may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. You might prove your innocence and avoid these steep consequences by hiring an experienced firearms possession attorney like Greg Tsioros to represent you.

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