The law in Texas is strict when it comes to carrying weapons in certain places. As the debate on the 2nd amendment and gun control continues to evolve, it is crucial for individuals to stay updated on the laws, especially if they carry firearms or other prohibited weapons. One section of Texas law that is particularly important in this context is Section 46.03 of the Penal Code, which outlines the areas where weapons are strictly prohibited.

Attorney for Carrying a Weapon in a Prohibited Place in Williamson County

The attorneys at Price & Twine are experienced with representing individuals charged with weapons-related offenses in Texas, including carrying a firearm or weapon in a prohibited place. Our firm serves the communities of Williamson and Bell County, Texas. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with carrying a weapon in a restricted or prohibited place, contact our firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Texas Penal Code 46.03: Places Weapons are Prohibited

Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code specifies that an offense is committed if a person knowingly, intentionally, or possesses recklessly or carries certain types of weapons, including clubs, certain knives, firearms, or other prohibited weapons, in designated areas. The following locations are among those where these weapons are prohibited:

  • Educational institutions and their related premises
  • Polling places during an election
  • Government court premises and offices
  • Racetracks
  • Secured areas of airports
  • Execution areas designated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Certain alcohol-selling businesses
  • Sporting event venues
  • Correctional and civil commitment facilities
  • Licensed hospitals and nursing facilities
  • Mental hospitals
  • Amusement parks
  • Government meetings open to the public

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Exceptions to the Law

While the law is clear about where weapons are prohibited, it also offers specific exceptions. For example, it’s a defense if the person possessed a firearm while in the actual discharge of official duties as a member of the armed forces, national guard, penal institution guard, or an officer of the court.

Variance In Penalties

It’s important to note that the penalties for violating this statute vary. While most offenses are felonies of the third degree, there are some exceptions. For instance, if the weapon involved is a location-restricted knife, the offense could be considered a Class C misdemeanor. On the other hand, offenses committed in certain specific locations are considered Class A misdemeanors.

Can License Holders Be Exempted?

One might think that holding a license to carry a weapon might give them a free pass, but that’s not the case. Even licensed individuals are prohibited from carrying weapons in the locations listed under Section 46.03, with very limited exceptions.

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Understanding Defenses Under Texas’s Section 46.03 On Prohibited Weapons

For Armed Forces, National Guard, Penal Institution Guards, And Court Officers

If you are a member of the National Guard, a guard working for a penal institution, the armed forces, or an officer of the court, you can use your official duties as a defense against prosecution, given you are in the actual discharge of those duties.

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For Airport Areas: Arrests for Carrying a Weapon in an Airport

In the case of carrying a weapon in or into a secured area of an airport, including Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA), you could claim defense under two conditions:

  • You placed all firearms in checked baggage according to federal or state law prior to coming into the secured zone.
  • You were authorized by a federal agency or the airport operator to possess a firearm in a secured area.

For Handgun License Holders At Airport Security
If you have a handgun that you possess a license to carry under Texas law and you happen to be at the screening checkpoint of an airport’s secured area, you will not be arrested if:

  • You exit the screening checkpoint immediately upon completion of the required screening processes and notification that you possess the handgun.

For Security Officers In Certain Areas

If you are a security officer, particularly one commissioned by the Texas Private Security Board, wearing a uniform and having the weapon in plain view, it can act as a defense for carrying a firearm on the premises of a racetrack or similar environments.
Vehicle And Residence Exception

If you possessed a firearm or club while in a vehicle being driven on a public road or at your residence or place of employment, it is an exception to the law.

Remember that having a license to carry a handgun is generally not a defense to prosecution under this section, except under specific circumstances mentioned above.

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Understanding Texas Penal Code Section 46.03: FAQ

What Are the Exceptions to This Rule?

The statute has a few notable exceptions. For instance, those discharging their official duties as a member of the National Guard, the armed forces penal institution guards, or other officers of the court, are exempt from the weapons law. There are also specific defenses for security officers and individuals passing through secured areas of airports.

Q. Can a Person With A Concealed Handgun License Carry a Weapon Under Section 46.03?

A. Even if a person has a license to carry a concealed handgun, Section 46.03 still places restrictions. Texas law states that the license holder is guilty of an offense if the license holder possesses a handgun in specific places like institutions of higher education that have established rules against it, or they otherwise display it in plain view on these premises.

Q. What are the Defenses to Prosecution Under Section 46.03?

A. Apart from the exceptions mentioned above, the law offers a defense for those who possess a handgun they are licensed to carry if they immediately exit the screening checkpoint at a secured area of an airport upon realizing they possess the handgun.

Q. What is the Penalty for an Offense Under Section 46.03?

A. Typically, an offense under Section 46.03 is considered a felony of the third degree. However, there are different levels of classifications for location-restricted knives and offenses, ranging from Class C misdemeanors to Class A misdemeanors.

Q. Does The 1,000-Feet Rule Near Places of Execution Apply to Someone Driving?

A. The law provides an exception that relates to possession within 1,000 feet of places of execution. This exception is applicable if the actor is in a vehicle being driven on a public road or if the actor is at their residence or place of employment.

Q. What Constitutes a “Secured Area” of an Airport Under This Statute?

A. The term “secured area” refers to an area of an airport terminal building where access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property under federal law. It doesn’t include public spaces like parking lots and baggage claim areas.

Q. How Does This Law Affect Private Security Officers?

A. Texas law provides specific defenses for security officers. Depending on the specific circumstances and conditions are met, such as wearing a uniform and carrying the weapon in plain view, security officers may possess weapons in certain prohibited places for official duties.

Q. Can A Person Legally Carry a Weapon if they are Traveling Through A Prohibited Area?

A. In the case of a secured area of an airport, if the actor checks their firearms into baggage under state or federal regulations or law, then they have a defense. This is also true for those who immediately exit a secured area upon being notified they possess a weapon.

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Additional Resources

Texas Penal Code 46.03: Places Where Handguns are Prohibited – Read the statutory language listing out all the placed where carrying a handgun is prohibited.

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Hire a Weapons Defense Attorney in Texas | Price & Twine

Understanding the nuances of Texas Penal Code Section 46.03 is crucial for anyone dealing with charges related to weapon possession in prohibited places or unlawful carry of a weapon. The statute provides various defenses and exceptions that may be applicable in different scenarios. If you find yourself facing weapons charges related to Section 46.03, it’s imperative to consult with Texas criminal defense lawyers familiar with defending those accused of weapons-related criminal offenses.

The attorneys at Price & Twine defend their clients and protect their rights in the complex world of criminal defense law. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Georgetown, Round Rock and throughout Williamson County Texas.

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