Picture of the author

What are Gun Crimes in Arlington, Texas?

Arlington gun crimes refer to the illegal handling of firearms in the city. Generally, residents of Arlington have the right to bear arms pursuant to the Second Amendment of the U.S Constitution. However, due to the dangers posed by improper handling or use of guns, this right is not absolute. Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code limits the right to bear arms in Arlington by providing for acts that can amount to gun crimes in the city. The acts include: 

Unlawful carrying of a handgun: is prohibited under Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code. The section prohibits persons under the age of 21 and persons convicted of felony assaults within five years from carrying a handgun, except on a premise or vehicle they own or control. It is also unlawful to carry a firearm within one’s vehicle or watercraft when prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. An offense under this section is a class A misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment, not more than a year or a $4,000 fine, or both. However, the crime can be enhanced as high as a second-degree felony if the accused had been prohibited from possessing firearms. A second-degree felony is punishable with 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000. The Code defines a handgun as any firearm designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one hand. 

Unlawful carrying of handguns by license holders: It is a crime in Arlington to carry a handgun in a vehicle, watercraft, or public place in plain view without a holster, even if the person is of age, possesses a license, and controls the vehicle or watercraft. An offense under this heading is a class A misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment, not more than a year or a $4,000 fine, or both.

Carrying a handgun while intoxicated: is an offense if the carrier is not on a premise or en route a vehicle they own or control. It is a class A misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment, not more than a year, a $4,000 fine, or both. This offense does not, however, apply to license holders. Similarly, consent of the owner or operator of the premise or vehicle to carry the firearm is a defense to this offense.

Carrying firearms in prohibited places: It is illegal to carry any kind of firearm in certain places in Arlington, including: 

  • Schools, school buses, and where school activities are taking place
  • Sporting events
  • Businesses that make half  of their income from alcohol sale
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Court building
  • Polling places during elections
  • Racetracks.

Depending on the location the offense was committed, it can be punished either as a class A misdemeanor or third-degree felony. A class A misdemeanor is punishable with imprisonment, not more than a year or a $4,000 fine, or both. Meanwhile, a third-degree felony attracts  2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine of up to $10,000.

Unlawful Possession of Firearm: occurs when a person previously convicted of a felony possesses a firearm within five years of the end of their punishment for the offense, including a jail term, parole, and community service. The offense is a class A misdemeanor except when the previous conviction involved a family member. In such instances, the offense becomes a third-degree felony. A class A misdemeanor attracts imprisonment of not more than a year or a $4,000 fine, or both. Third-degree felony attracts  2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Dealing in Prohibited Weapons: Section 46.05 of the Texas Penal Code prohibits the possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of certain firearms such as machine guns, short-barrel firearms, armor-piercing ammunition, and zip guns. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable with 2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine not exceeding $10,000.
 Unlawful transfer of certain weapons: It is illegal to knowingly sell, rent, lease, loan, or give a handgun to persons that:

  • Below the age of 18
  • Persons prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous conviction
  • Persons intending to use the firearm to commit an offense 
  • Intoxicated persons.

The offense is typically classified as a class A misdemeanor, punishable with up to a year in prison and up to $4,000 in fines. Transferring a firearm to a child under 18 is a state jail felony that attracts imprisonment for 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Making a firearm accessible to a child: It is a crime in Arlington to allow a child below the age of 17 to gain access to a readily dischargeable firearm. Criminal liability of the offense arises from a failure to secure the firearm or leaving the firearm in a place the person knew the child could gain access. The offense is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. The offense becomes a class A misdemeanor if the child discharges the weapon and causes death or serious bodily injury. Class A misdemeanor is punishable with up to a year in jail and a fine, not more than $4,000. 

Firearm Smuggling: it is an offense to knowingly engage in a business involving the transportation or transfer of firearms with the knowledge that the firearms are obtained in violation of any state or federal law.  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree punishable with 2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine of up to $10,000.

For the purpose of criminalization, the code defines a firearm as any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use. To sustain a charge, the prosecution would have to prove that the weapon found on the defendant falls within this category. Likewise, the accused must have acted knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly to be criminally responsible. The absence of these mental elements in a gun crime charge in Arlington may prevent the court from convicting the accused.

How Many Gun Crimes are Committed with a Legally Obtained Firearm in Arlington?

Texas gun control laws are generally considered among the least restrictive among states in the U.S. According to statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s online Crime Data Explorer, in 2020, the City of Arlington recorded a total of  458 weapon law violations, including gun crimes. Likewise, a breakdown of the weapons used in violent crimes within  Arlington in 2020 shows that 502 crimes involved handguns, and 143 involved other firearms. 

Who Can Possess a Gun in Arlington?

Residents of Arlington can possess a handgun after satisfying certain requirements, even without obtaining a  license to carry (LTC). However, getting an LTC carries additional benefits such as an allowance to carry in certain places, training, and ease of purchasing firearms. 

To be able to possess a gun in Arlington legally, a person must:

  • Be at least 21 years old 
  • Not have been convicted of a felony offense  
  • Not have a recent conviction for certain assaults under the Texas Penal Code 
  • Not be subject to an active protective order 
  • Not be restricted from possessing a firearm under federal law 
  • Not be intoxicated or a chemically dependent person
  • Be capable of exercising sound judgment to use the firearm.

Though persons that satisfy the requirement above can legally possess a firearm in Arlington, the law provides some extra conditions for obtaining an LTC license, including that the person must be a legal resident of this state for months prior to the date of application for the license. Persons that make material misrepresentation while applying for the license are not allowed to obtain it. The Texas Department of Public Safety is in charge of issuing an LTC in Arlington.

What if My Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in Arlington?

Generally, owners of stolen or lost guns used in a crime in Arlington do not usually have criminal responsibility if it can be proven that they did lose possession of the firearm. Unlike some other states in the U.S, Texas laws do not place a duty on residents to report missing or lost firearms. However, if a person does not report and the firearm is used for illegal purposes, the person would likely face some questioning from the police as a crime suspect since relevant authorities are not aware that the person lost possession of the firearm. Reporting stolen or missing guns breaks the chain of custody and can clearly show when the person had the gun and when the person did not.

How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in Arlington?

Per Texas Penal Code, law enforcement and residents are generally allowed to stop crimes in the City of Arlington. In most cases, a police officer in Arlington would be allowed to use a weapon if the crime being committed is one that necessitates such force. The weapon and force that police officers can employ depending on the situation. They are required to use firearms reasonably. Similarly, private citizens can use guns in any recognized form of self-defense, defense of property, or defense of others if the threat faced requires such a level of force. Excessive force in defense situations may lead to criminal charges, usually manslaughter. 

Consequences for Immigrants with Gun Crime Convictions

An immigrant convicted of gun crimes in Arlington may face severe consequences, including deportation and inadmissibility as provided for under U.S immigration law. The Supreme Court clarified that illegal possession, sale, usage, offer for sale, exchange, ownership, or carrying must constitute an element of the conduct for which the immigrant was convicted. Also, note that a firearm conviction may not bar an immigrant from certain reliefs such as immigrating with a family visa, except the Court finds that the offense amounts to a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).

Arlington Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys

Being convicted for a weapon violation in Arlington can have severe consequences, including lengthy incarceration, hefty fines, and other collateral implications like a criminal record and immigration issues. Therefore, when facing a weapon charge in Arlington, it is essential to hire a competent gun crime attorney who can help coordinate one’s case in court. A gun crime lawyer is knowledgeable in the procedural and substantive aspects of the charge and can help an accused person come up with strategies to dismiss a gun crime charge or negotiate lesser punishments with the relevant authorities. Other services and advantages that come with hiring a gun crime attorney include preparing and filing relevant paperwork, preparing evidence and witness statements for trial, representation in court, and correspondence with relevant authorities.   

There are several ways of defending a gun charge in Arlington. With the help of an attorney, a defendant may rely on any of the following common defenses to the charge, depending on the circumstances of their case:

  • Self Defense: In certain circumstances, the law justifies the unlawful possession of a gun. This includes circumstances where the accused was under threat or reasonable apprehension of serious harm posed by the victim. The use of firearms must not have been an excessive reaction in the particular situation. In addition to the defense of necessity, this defense can also be argued to justify possession of firearms by a felon in certain circumstances. 
  • Curio Defense: The Texas Penal Code also allows for the affirmative defense that the weapons possessed by the accused are antiques or collectibles. To successfully argue this defense, the defense would have to prove that the weapon in question does not fall within the meaning of a firearm under the code. Section 46.01 of the Code defines a firearm as means any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily adaptable to such use. 
  • Mistake: A mistake shows a lack of intention to commit the crime. A mistake can be of fact or law. Section 8.02 of the Texas Penal Code permits the defense of mistake of fact defense if the defendant can prove that they acted based on a reasonable belief about a matter of fact. To rely on the defense of a mistake of law, the defendant must have reasonably believed that their conduct did not constitute a crime, and they reasonably relied on either an administrative order or written interpretation of the law in forming this belief.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: The prosecution must provide credible evidence for a gun charge to succeed. Generally, evidence gotten in the process of an illegal search violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution. The defense attorney can file a Motion to Suppress evidence obtained from such search to bar the prosecution from relying on such evidence. 
  • Lack of Knowledge: Accused persons can escape conviction by providing that while they unlawfully possess a firearm, they were not aware of it. One of the elements of gun crimes is that the accused had knowledge of the possession of the weapon. As such, the defense counsel can get the charge dismissed by tendering evidence showing that the accused could not have known of the firearm on them. 
  • Lack of Possession: One element of gun crimes in Arlington is that the firearm was possessed or under the control of the accused. A competent attorney can establish that the defendant was not in possession of the firearm, for example, if the defendant was only a passenger in a vehicle that contained the weapon.
  • Parental Consent: It is an affirmative defense to the crime of transferring a firearm to a child below the age of 18 that the transfer was done in line with the written consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian. 

Gun Enhancement Defenses

In Arlington, several factors can enhance punishments for a gun crime, including previous convictions on certain assault offenses and whether the gun crime was committed to facilitate another crime. Likewise, the display of firearms can enhance penalties for assault offenses. However, sometimes law enforcement might have misunderstood the situation or just acted on some presumptions based on the accused criminal history. Where this is the case, the defendant can defend the charge or avoid enhanced penalties by arguing that:

  • There was no intent to commit the underlying offense
  • The past conviction has been expunged from the defendant’s criminal record
  • The prosecution is relying on evidence obtained during an illegal search
  • The acts constituting the crime was a necessity in preventing serious harm.