In Texas, the statute governing firearm smuggling is Penal Code § 46.14. This statute defines firearm smuggling as “knowingly engaging in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm that the person knows was acquired in violation of the laws of any state or the United States.” Transporting or transferring can involve a relatively small amount of distance and could even mean driving a firearm down the street. To be considered “in the business of” firearm smuggling, the defendant must have engaged in the conduct more than once or for profit or any other incentive. The statute provides an exception to a peace officer in the official line of duty. It also provides that if someone commits other crimes in the commission of firearm smuggling, they can face more than one criminal charge for the act.
In general, firearm smuggling is considered a third-degree felony in Texas. However, if the prosecution can prove the defendant smuggled three or more firearms on any occasion, the charge will be increased to a second-degree felony. The judge may be inclined to provide harsher penalties if a significant amount of firearms are involved.
Houston Firearm Smuggling Attorney
If you believe that you might be under investigation for firearm smuggling in Texas, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. At The Benken Law Firm, firearm defense attorney Brian Benken has extensive legal experience to put to work for you. He can discuss the details of your case and determine what the best course of action is.
The Benken Law Firm serves clients throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding counties including Houston, Pasadena, Houston Heights, Meyerland, Greater East End, Lawndale, River Oaks, Hedwig Village and Bellaire. Call (713) 223 - 4051 to arrange a free consultation today.
- The Legal Consequences Of Firearm Smuggling In Texas
- Third-Degree Firearm Smuggling
- Second-Degree Firearm Smuggling
- Firearm Smuggling Defenses
- Additional Resources
The Legal Consequences Of Firearm Smuggling In Texas
While Texas is generally considered a state that respects the Second Amendment, that does not mean that firearm smuggling is not taken seriously. As stated above, firearm smuggling can either be charged as a third-degree or second-degree felony in Texas. The higher the degree of felony, the more serious, making a second-degree felony a more serious offense than a third-degree felony. These offenses are less serious than first-degree felonies or capital felonies but more serious than state jail felonies and misdemeanors. You can read more about Texas criminal classifications and sentencing guidelines in Texas Penal Code § 12.01.
Because firearm smuggling is a felony, anyone convicted of this crime in Texas will lose some civil rights. While many rights like the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly will remain intact, a convicted felon loses the right to purchase or own a firearm. A convicted felon also loses the right to vote or run in public elections. After a felony conviction, the defendant will need to take complicated and expensive steps to even have a chance of regaining their lost constitutional rights.
Third-Degree Firearm Smuggling
Anyone convicted of a third-degree felony in Texas faces 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony higher than a state jail felony, third-degree firearm smuggling will be punished as a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony are listed below.
Second-Degree Firearm Smuggling
A defendant convicted of a second-degree felony in Texas faces up to $10,000 in fines and imprisonment ranging from 2 to 20 years. If someone is charged with second-degree firearm smuggling and has a previous felony conviction, they will be charged with a first-degree felony. In Texas, a first-degree felony conviction means up to $10,000 in fines and anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison. Under certain circumstances, this will translate to a life sentence. Therefore, firearm smuggling should be taken seriously by both the defendant and their legal representative.
Firearm Smuggling Defenses
Almost everyone knows that a felony conviction is a dire situation. Someone convicted of firearm smuggling in Texas faces a minimum of 2 years in prison. This prison sentence can easily be much higher based on a variety of factors, like a prior criminal record, the number of firearms involved, and other circumstances surrounding the arrest.
The Texas Penal Code requires that for someone to be convicted of firearm smuggling, they must have knowingly engaged in the business of transporting or transferring firearms in violation of state or federal law. Someone may have unknowingly assisted someone in conducting firearm smuggling without even realizing it. If a defendant has disreputable companions and was arrested with at least one other person, this defense may apply.
Firearm smuggling requires that the defendant be engaged in the business of firearm smuggling for conviction. If someone only transported or transferred a firearm(s) once or didn’t receive payment or other consideration in exchange for the firearm(s), they weren’t technically “engaged in the business” as required by Texas law. If the prosecution doesn’t have evidence of payment or multiple transactions, they will bear the burden of proving that the defendant was engaged in the business of firearm smuggling. Otherwise, the defendant can focus on getting any evidence excluded of occasions that involved payment or 3 or more firearms.
In Texas, there are many defenses available to defendants to combat firearm smuggling charges. Many of those defenses are rooted in the very fabric of the United States Constitution. Even defendants who consider themselves familiar with the constitution should consult an experienced defense attorney about Texas felony charges. After a thorough investigation, a defense attorney may find facts that could help the defendant reduce penalties or avoid them altogether.
Texas Penal Code § 46.14 – This plain language statute describes firearm smuggling in the state of Texas, as well as the enhancement for smuggling three or more firearms on one occasion.
Texas Penal Code $ 12.01 – This plain language statute provided by the Texas Capitol defines the penalty guidelines for different levels of crimes in Texas.
Houston Firearm Smuggling Lawyer | Harris County, TX
If you have been arrested for firearm smuggling, The Benken Law Firm can help to protect you and your future. Houston criminal defense attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has over 30 years of experience in criminal law. He will leave no stone unturned as he provides a thorough investigation of the facts.
The Benken Law Firm defends clients of firearm smuggling in Harris County and surrounding counties. Some of these communities include Houston, Tomball, Spring, Hunters Creek Village, River Oaks and many more. Your first consultation is free, so call (713) 223 - 4051 today.