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Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm: Texas Laws

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm: Texas Laws

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Unlawfully Discharging a Firearm in Texas

Many citizens of Texas are proud supporters of the 2nd Amendment. The majority of gun owners in the state of Texas are responsible owners of firearms who practice proper gun safety. However, Texas has very strict laws governing the proper use of firearm. Using a firearm in a way that breaks these laws can result in arrest, criminal charges and prosecution.

Under the law in Texas, a firearm should only be discharged under legal circumstances. For example, discharging a firearm while hunting, practicing on a gun range or in self-defense are all legal in Texas. However, firing a gun outside of these circumstances can lead to a criminal conviction.

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What Is Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm?

Under Texas law, a person who engages in reckless behavior that endangers the safety of others may be considered to be engaging in deadly conduct. Section 22.05 of the Texas Penal Code states that a person commits an offense of deadly conduct if they recklessly engage in conduct that places another person in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

Deadly conduct can include:

  • Knowingly discharging a firearm in the direction of one or more people
  • Knowingly discharging a firearm in the direction of a habitation, building or vehicle with recklessness as to whether that habitation, building or vehicle is occupied

For the purposes of the law, intentionally and knowingly pointing a firearm at another person, residence or vehicle is considered reckless and dangerous, regardless of whether or not that person believes that the firearm is loaded.

For example, if Alan walks into his front yard and fires a rifle at his neighbor’s home, he may be charged with deadly conduct, even if he believed that the weapon was unloaded before pulling the trigger. Alan’s neighbor is within his rights to call the police and have Alan placed under arrest.

Legal Penalties

According to Section 22.05 of the Texas Penal Code, engaging in deadly conduct with a firearm is considered a felony of the third degree. Being prosecuted and convicted of a third degree felony in Texas can lead to:

  • Incarceration in a Texas state prison for a term of two years or up to 10 years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

In addition to these punishments, a person who is convicted of a firearms charge in Texas may also be ordered to relinquish their rights to own or possess firearms. These restrictions may be ordered as part of conditions of probation. Violating these conditions of probation by owning or possessing a firearm may lead to an immediate revocation of probation. These may result in the initial prison sentence being reinstated and additional charges may be filed.

Legal Defenses

When a person is charged with deadly conduct for unlawfully discharging a firearm in Texas, the prosecution must prove every element of the charges in order to secure a conviction. This means that they must prove that the person discharged the firearm intentionally and recklessly.

A defense attorney may be able to use evidence, witness statements and well-constructed arguments to prove to a jury that the defendant did not fire a gun recklessly or intentionally. For example, the defense attorney could argue that the gun went off accidentally and that the owner of the gun was using the gun in a responsible manner.

If this strategy is successful, the jury may decide to issue a verdict of not guilty. Alternatively, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the court and the prosecution for a plea deal. A plea deal may allow the defendant to enter a guilty plea to a lesser charge while avoiding a trial for the original deadly conduct charge. This could help the defendant avoid time in jail or prison.

Consulting with a defense attorney is the best step to take after being charged with a count of deadly conduct by unlawfully discharging a firearm in Texas. This is the best way to construct a solid legal defense.

If you’re being charged with a firearm related crime, it’s important to get a legal defense. Houston lawyer Greg Tsioros has the knowledge and experience needed to protect your rights. Contact his office today at (832) 752-5972.

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