Gun crimes in Lubbock include several acts considered to amount to illegal dealing, possession, or use of firearms. Gun crimes in Lubbock are contained in Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code, limiting residents’ right to bear arms. The chapter contains several crimes, including:
- Unlawful carrying of handgun: It is a crime to carry a handgun while under the age of 21 or within five years of being convicted of a felony assault except if in a premise or vehicle the person owns or controls. Persons prohibited from possessing a firearm cannot carry one in a vehicle or watercraft. The classification of offenses in this section ranges from class A misdemeanor to a second-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. A class A misdemeanor is punishable with imprisonment for up to a year, a $4,000 fine, or both. On the other hand, second-degree felonies attract 2 to 20 years imprisonment, including a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- Unlawful display by license holders: Persons up to age and licensed to carry a firearm in Lubbock can violate the Texas Penal Code by carrying a handgun in a public place or vehicle in plain view, without a holster. This offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment for up to a year, a $4,000 fine, or both fine and imprisonment.
- Carrying while intoxicated: It is illegal to carry a firearm while intoxicated in a premise, vehicle, or en route a vehicle of another person without obtaining that person’s consent. This offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable with one-year imprisonment, a $4,000 fine, or both. It is a defense to this offense that the accused holds a license to carry.
- Carrying firearms in certain premises: The Texas Penal Code prohibits possession of any firearm in certain places such as educational institutions, sporting events, beverage alcohol establishments, medical facilities, court premises, polling stations, and racetracks. This offense can be charged as a class A misdemeanor or third-degree felony depending on the circumstance of the case. Class A misdemeanors attract up to a year in prison or a $4,000 fine, or both, while a third-degree felony is punishable with 2 to 10 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.
- Unlawful possession of a firearm: It is a crime for a person previously convicted of a felony to possess a firearm five years from the end of their sentence. This offense is a class A misdemeanor imprisonment, not more than a year, a $4,000 fine, or both. However, it is charged as a third-degree felony if the previous conviction involved violence to a family member. A third-degree felony is punishable with 2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- Dealing in Prohibited Weapons: Per section 46.05 of the Texas Penal Code, it is illegal to deal in certain weapons, including the possession, manufacture, transport, repair, or sale of such weapons. Prohibited weapons include machine guns, short-barrel firearms, armor-piercing ammunition, and zip guns. This offense is classified as a third-degree felony, and it attracts 2 to 10 years in prison, including a fine of up to $10,000.
- Unlawful transfer of certain weapons: It is a crime to knowingly transfer a firearm to persons that cannot legally possess it, such as persons under the age of 18, prohibited from possession due to conviction, obtaining a firearm to commit a crime and intoxicated or chemically dependent persons. Acts of transfer include the sale, rent, lease, loan, or giving-out of the firearm. Offenses under this section are classified as class A misdemeanor, punishable with up to a year in prison and up to $4,000 in fines. However, if the transfer is made to a child under the age of 18, the offense is charged as a state jail felony attracting imprisonment between 180 days and two years, including a fine of up to $10,000.
- Making a firearm accessible to a child: The Texas Penal Code places a duty on gun owners to prevent it from being accessible to children below 17. To determine the defendant’s criminal liability, the court will examine certain factors, such as whether the gun was readily dischargeable and whether the accused left the gun in a place that the child could easily access. The offense is generally charged as a class C misdemeanor punishable with a $500 fine. It, however, becomes a class A misdemeanor if the child discharges the weapon and causes death or serious bodily injury. Class A misdemeanor attracts a jail term of up to a year, including a fine not exceeding $4,000.
- Firearm Smuggling: involves knowingly engaging in a business that involves the transportation or transfer of illegally obtained firearms. This offense is a third-degree felony punishable with between 2 and 10 years in prison, including a fine of up to $10,000.
Under the Texas Penal Code, a firearm includes 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. Similarly, a handgun refers to a firearm created or modified to be fired with one arm. The weapon used by an accused person must fall within these legal definitions for the gun charge to succeed. In addition to this, the person must also fulfill the requisite mental element, which can be intention, recklessness, or knowledge. Gun crimes are treated seriously in Lubbock. Besides the court-imposed penalties, jail terms, and fines, a conviction also carries collateral consequences like a criminal record, immigration issues, and license revocation.
How Many Gun Crimes are Committed with a Legally Obtained Firearm in Lubbock?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lubbock Police Department recorded a total of 468 weapon law violations in 2020, which includes gun crimes. Within the same period, 385 of the total violent offenses in the city involved the use of handguns, while 227 involved other kinds of firearms.
Who Can Possess a Gun in Lubbock?
Unlike some other places in the U.S, Texas law does not require residents of Lubbock to hold a license to possess a firearm. People aged 21 and above can legally possess a firearm in Lubbock so far they:
- Have not been previously convicted of a felony offense within the last five years
- Do not have an active protective order against them
- Are not prohibited from possessing firearms under a federal legislation
- Are not intoxicated or addicted to a controlled substance
- Are capable of making a sound decision on the use of a firearm.
Note that holding an LTC (License to Carry) has certain additional advantages. It can serve as a defense for accidental carrying in certain premises, and its holders can purchase firearms without a criminal background search. Interested persons can apply for the license on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website. Applicants will have to provide the following documents:
- valid driver's license or government-issued ID
- Contact information, including employment information
- Information about residence and employment for the last five years
- Criminal history and information on psychiatric, drug, or alcohol issues
- Valid email address
- Valid credit card for payment of license fees.
What if My Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in Lubbock?
Texas laws do not generally hold owners of a stolen firearm in Lubbock responsible for a crime committed with the firearm. Likewise, the law does not place a duty on residents to report stolen firearms. Nonetheless, reporting one’s stolen firearm can prevent some questioning from the police if the firearm is eventually used to commit a crime. Such a report can prove that the owner of the firearm actually lost possession of it, as such, is not likely to be the person who committed the crime.
How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in Lubbock?
Texas laws allow law enforcement and citizens alike to take necessary steps to stop a crime. Whatever means or weapon persons may adopt to stop a crime depends on the situation. Residents can act in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of property, but the force and weapon used should be proportionate to the threat or danger faced, or it may lead to a criminal charge. Law enforcement officials are also required to use firearms reasonably and only in required situations.
Consequences for Immigrants with Gun Crime Convictions
A firearm conviction can have severe consequences for an immigrant in Lubbock. Under the U.S immigration laws, this may lead to deportation and inadmissibility. However, the Supreme Court established that for a crime involving a firearm to lead to deportation, it must include elements such as possession, sale, use, or carrying. Therefore, a conviction may not lead to severe consequences if the handling of a firearm was not an element but was necessary to prove an element in the case.
Lubbock Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys
When facing a gun crime charge in Lubbock, it is advisable to seek the services of a competent gun crime lawyer. The charges are taken seriously, and the penalties are severe. However, a gun crime lawyer can examine the circumstance of a case, including any search and arrest, to determine justifiable doubts in the prosecution’s case. Hiring an attorney also takes some burden off the accused shoulders, such as filing relevant paperwork, conducting the case in court, organizing witness statements and evidence, and communicating with relevant officials. Lawyers can also help their clients lookout for sentencing alternatives to help reduce potential punishments.
Gun Charge Legal Defense in Lubbock
Defendants in Lubbock gun crime cases can examine the possibility of arguing established defenses to the charge, including:
- Defense situations: the law allows persons to use firearms in defense of themselves, others, or their property. However, not all defense situations justify the use of a firearm. For this defense to avail an accused person, the situation must be one that the use of a firearm is reasonable and proportionate to the risk posed by the assailant.
- Weapon classification: not all weapons qualify as firearms under the Texas Penal Code. Under the code, a firearm refers to any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily adaptable to such use. Weapons that are antiques or collectibles do not qualify as firearms under the code. Similarly, the code defines a handgun as a firearm made or adapted to be fired with one arm for offenses involving handguns.
- Mistake: the intention of the accused is a fundamental element of gun crimes in Lubbock. Therefore, it is a defense that the accused acted mistakenly, not intentionally. The Texas Penal Code provides for both mistakes of fact and of law. On the one hand, a mistake of fact constitutes a ground of defense if the accused persons acted on a fact they reasonably believed was true. On the other hand, a mistake of law can exonerate a defendant if the person formed a reasonable belief based on an administrative order or document interpreting the law.
- Illegal search and seizure: the court may not admit evidence gotten in violation of the U.S Constitution. Evidence obtained through illegal search and seizure violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. As such, the defense side can file a motion to suppress such illegal evidence if the prosecution seeks to rely on it.
- Lack of knowledge: it is a defense to a gun possession charge that the defendant did not know of the weapon found by them. For example, where illegal firearms have been planted in the accused’s vehicle or residence.
- Lack of possession: For a gun crime charge to succeed, the prosecution must show that the firearm was under the possession or control of the defendant. As such, the charge may be dismissed if the defense side can introduce evidence to show that the defendant was never in control of the firearm in question.
- Parental consent: persons charged with the offense of transferring a firearm to a child under 18 can avoid conviction by providing written parental consent from the child’s parent or guardian.
Gun Enhancement Defenses
Enhancement refers to instances that generally increase the punishment for a crime under the law. Possession or display of firearms during the commission of assault offenses generally enhances the penalties for the crime. Similarly, certain factors such as previous conviction and facilitation of a crime can enhance punishments for gun offenses to higher degrees. Defendants can argue against such enhancements by relying on certain defenses such as neccessity, lack of intent to commit the underlying crime, or that the previous conviction has been expunged from the accused records.