Texas’s gun laws are confusing. Every day, it seems, there are new laws telling us where we can and cannot have a firearm. More often than not, when someone commits a crime involving a gun in Houston, they did not even know their actions were against the law. However, Mr. Pham makes it his business to know the ever evolving firearms law.
Texas permits almost anyone to carry a gun or keep one in their home or locked in their vehicle. However, in some circumstances firearm possession is prohibited.
In Texas, there are three major types of gun statutes that prohibit possession:
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Unlawful discharge of a firearm
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
Furthermore, possession of a firearm when charged with assault, domestic violence and many drug crimes will enhance either the degree of the crime or the sentence. For those reasons, it is vital that anyone charged with a gun crime call Mr. Pham immediately to determine their rights and obligations. Without doing so, they could face fines, prison time and restriction of their ability to own and carry a firearm in the future. Finally, if you are not sure of when and where you can carry a gun, call Mr. Pham before you do so. It can make the difference. Too often, we see clients who brought guns into airports or other public areas without knowing it was illegal. Unfortunately, by then it is too late.
A number of issues can arise in firearms cases that amount to effective defenses. The most prevalent that Mr. Pham sees are 4th Amendment “search and seizure” issues. That is, law enforcement is not entitled to just go looking for your gun. In some situations, they must have reasonable suspicion before they can pat you down for weapons. That is, if you are simply walking down the street, bothering no one, law enforcement cannot frisk you for a weapon without your permission. In other cases, probable cause is required. That is, even if you are stopped for a moving violation in Houston, the police cannot search your vehicle without a warrant or probable cause. The one exception to this rule is a custodial arrest. That is, if the police are taking you to jail as a basis of that traffic stop, they can then sweep your vehicle for weapons. For that reason, if you are stopped for speeding and the police officer asks to search your car, it is never in your best interest to say “yes.” We can always hold out hope that if enough people exercise their rights and refuse the search, they will stop asking.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mr. Pham can often make the difference between incarceration, probation and freedom. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for any gun-related offense, and want an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, contact Houston attorney Michael H. Pham at (713) 236-7791.