Unlawful Carrying Weapons, or UCW, is an offense that prohibits a person from carrying a weapon, sometimes in a certain place or method of carrying.. There are specific weapons listed, such as a handgun, or illegal knife, and the legality depends how the person is carrying the weapon. If the weapon is carried personally, or on the body, and done knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly, then prosecutors will charge that person with a Class A Misdemeanor in one of the other conditions are met within the statute.
This includes otherwise legal handguns concealed or improperly transported in a vehicle. In fact, the most common UCW cases in Travis County are handguns improperly stored in a car or truck. There's a fine line with car cases involving UCS; if the weapon is in plain view, officers will arrest for UCW.
One of the main issues in Unlawful Carrying a Weapon cases centers on subsection (a-1), which is when a person carries a handgun in a motor vehicle -- if the gun is in plain view, unless the person is licensed to carry a handgun under the concealed carry laws. For that defense to apply, the gun must be holstered and the person have a Concealed Carry License.
UCW cases are toughly prosecuted in Austin. An arrest will cause a notice to be sent to DPS regarding Firearms. The person may not be eligible to obtain a firearm (or concealed carry permit) for years, depending on how the case resolves. Also, in Austin, prosecutors are very strict about Weapon Forfeitures, meanining even if the gun was legally purchased, they may require forfeiture if a dismissal is on the table.
Related areas to Unlawful Carrying a Weapon include other firearms offenses, as well as issues like road rage, which is classified as Terroristic Threat, or even shooting a gun in a public area, which is charged as Discharge Firearm in Certain Municipalities.
If you're looking for other offenses that are related to this one, you can see more information below, or click related legal offenses.
A person charged with Unlawful Carrying a Weapon is normally arrested and taken to jail. This will require the person to be Magistrated (fingerprinted and booked without going into the jail), which means there could be considerable delays awaiting a Judge and the volumes of paperwork required for a release. An Attorney can possibly speed that up.
Sometimes an officer will file arrest warrant , which will require a Walkthrough to clear the Arrest Warrant. Doing a Walkthrough quickly is important, because most of the time a person does not go into the jail during the surrender process. Call us for more details if you have an Active Travis County Arrest Warrant.
Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.
The main defense on UCS cases involves "plain view," specifically subsection (a1)(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 or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at any time in which: (1)the handgun is in plain view...
Generally speaking, this section authorizes a person with a handgun to "carr[y] on or about his or her person" a gun, in a motor vehicle, as long as the gun is not in plain view. This is very subjective. Frequently, cases involve guns in a glove box, or under a seat, or even in a bag within the passenger compartment -- not necessarily in plain view, but certainly within arms reach and accessible. An in-depth caselaw analysis is required, specific to the facts, to see whether the location of the gun in a person's case is consistent with the statute and law.
If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.
Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Unlawful Carrying a Weapon cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
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Your goal should be Dismissal for any Unlawful Carrying a Weapon charge. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.
Keates Law Firm has a track record of dismissals for Unlawful Carrying a Weapon. Some -- but not many, Unlawful Carrying a Weapon cases result in negotiated dismissals, where there's usually a trade-off of community service and a class in exchange for a dismissal -- but not always. The main hurdle is convincing the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the case, and Keates Law Firm has experience in Austin's Travis County courts doing just that.
(a)A person commits an offense if the person:
(1)intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun; and
(A)on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
(B)inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft 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 or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control at any time in which: (1)the handgun is in plain view, unless the person is licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H (Definitions), Chapter 411 (Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas), Government Code, and the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt holster; 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 or boating; (B)prohibited by law from possessing a firearm; or (C)a member of a criminal street gang, as defined by Section 71.01 (Definitions).
UCW is a Class A Misdemeanor, which means probation, or jail up to 365 days, or a fine up to $4,000, or a combintaion of those. In Travis County, a person charged with Unlawful Carrying a Weapon can expect an uphill battle in trying to get the weapon back, even if it was otherwise legal (aside from the UCW).
|Level of Offense||Punishment|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Not Applicable|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Not Applicable|
|Class A Misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines|
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