Understanding Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm By A Felon Charges
Denton law enforcement recently found a handgun, over 100 grams of methamphetamines, three grams of tar heroin, and a ballistic vest at the home of a known drug distributor in Lewisville. The man was arrested on charges of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and unlawful possession of body armor by a felon. As a result, the man was placed in Denton County Jail on a $150,000 bail. The man is believed to have sold methamphetamine out of his home in Lewisville, which distributed a large amount of the drug into Denton.
The defendant has a significant criminal history, including several felony convictions like tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Law enforcement identified the man during a week-long investigation into drug distribution.
This case serves as an example of just one way in which a person can end up facing firearm possession charges under Texas law. If you or a loved one faces these charges, it is often important to both understand how these charges are made as well as to immediately obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Texas Law Regarding Firearm Possession
Under Texas Penal Code section 12.33, 46.04, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon is classified as a third degree felony that can result in a person facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
To convict a person of firearm possession, the prosecution must demonstrate that the individual was convicted of a felony, and possessed a firearm after conviction of the offense, but five years before release from prison. This regulation does not apply to a conviction or sentence involving community supervision. The reasoning behind this stipulation is that a person who is sentenced to community supervision is viewed as completely rehabilitated and ready to resume a role in society as a law-abiding citizen. As a result, courts in the state of Texas define possession to include the voluntary care, control, custody or management of an object. The firearm also must be under the exclusive possession and control of the person. To satisfy these elements, state prosecution can use either direct or circumstantial evidence.
Potential Defenses to Gun Possession by a Felon
A person charged with firearm possession as a felon is able to raise a defense of necessity. This defense involves establishing that the person reasonably believed their conduct was necessary to avoid imminent harm. To argue this defense, evidence must be present of both immediate necessity to use the firearm as well as imminent harm. Some other defenses like self-defense, mistake of the law, or ignorance of the law are not available as defenses if a person is charged with unlawful firearm possession as a felon.
Speak with an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, body armor, or any other prohibition regarding felons, it is critical that you obtain the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. At Wheeler Law Office, our legal counsel has significant experience creating strong defenses and knows what it takes to defend against the toughest of charges.
(image courtesy of Antonio Grosz)