If you’ve been arrested, and alleged to have unlawfully possessed a handgun, club, or illegal knife, you will likely face charges for unlawfully carrying a weapon (also known as UCW) In Texas, unlawfully carrying a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by
up to one year in the county jail, and up to a $4000 fine. If it’s alleged that you were in possession of the weapon in a location that is license by the State of Texas to sell alcoholic beverages, the offense is enhanced to a third degree felony. For this type of offense, the penalty range is between 2 and 10 years in state prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. Texas law does provide what is commonly referred to as the traveling defense. More specifically, if you’re arrested in a vehicle for unlawfully carrying a weapon (UCW), you are presumed to be “traveling.” This presumption can only be rebutted if you are charged with another crime more serious than a Class C misdemeanor (such as a traffic ticket), or if it’s proven that you possessed the weapon pursuant to some other criminal purpose (e.g., you’re a felon, alleged to unlawfully possess a firearm). The legal effect of this “presumption” is that it effectively provides you with a defense from prosecution, even if you don’t have a concealed handgun license (CHL). However, even though your lawyer may win your case at trial, based solely upon this presumption, it’s still possible that you may be arrested and charged with UCW by the police. Nevertheless, in many cases, this presumption can result in a dismissal prior to trial, or an acquittal, should a trial occur.
Texas Penal Code Section 46.02. UNLAWFUL CARRYING WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
(1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
(2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.
(a-1) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun in a motor vehicle that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at any time in which:
(1) the handgun is in plain view; or
(2) the person is:
(A) engaged in criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance regulating traffic;
(B) prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or
(C) a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01.
(a-2) For purposes of this section, “premises” includes real property and a recreational vehicle that is being used as living quarters, regardless of whether that use is temporary or permanent. In this subsection, “recreational vehicle” means a motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters or a vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle. The term includes a travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home, and horse trailer with living quarters.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 109, ch. 49, Sec. 1, eff. April 15, 1975; Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 918, ch. 342, Sec. 14, eff. Sept. 1, 1975; Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 1330, ch. 494, Sec. 2, eff. June 19, 1975; Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 1879, ch. 746, Sec. 26, eff. Aug. 29, 1977; Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 2273, ch. 552, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 31, 1981; Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 5113, ch. 931, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1983; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 262, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 873, Sec. 25, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 168, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Redesignated from Penal Code Sec. 46.02, 46.03 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 229, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 318, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 754, Sec. 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 790, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 998, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 10.02, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1221, Sec. 1, eff. June 20, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1261, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 693, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.