Understanding the complexities of firearm laws in Texas is crucial, especially when it comes to the unlawful discharge of a firearm. In the state of Texas, discharging a firearm in certain municipalities is considered illegal and can result in severe consequences. These could range from hefty fines to imprisonment, damaging not just your financial stability but your reputation and future as well. One of the sections that deal specifically with this issue is Texas Penal Code Section 42.12. This law outlines the conditions under which it becomes unlawful to discharge a firearm in certain municipalities in Texas.

Discharging a Firearm in a Municipality Defense attorney in Georgetown, TX

If an individual has been charged with unlawfully discharging a firearm in municipalities in Wilco Texas, immediate action is essential. Price & Twine, PLLC is adept at representing individuals facing such charges. The firm’s team of experienced lawyers can provide you with the legal guidance you need to navigate through this challenging time. To discuss a case and explore legal options, reach out to Price & Twine, PLLC at (512) 354-1880 or get in touch online. Swift action can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case; don’t delay in securing qualified legal representation.


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Scope of The Statute: Who Is Affected?

The law’s coverage is very specific in terms of geographic and demographic boundaries. According to Texas Penal Code § 42.12, an offense is committed when a person discharges a firearm recklessly inside of the corporate boundaries of a municipality. It’s worth noting that this law is not universally applicable across all municipalities in Texas. It targets municipalities that possess a population of one hundred thousand people or more, thereby focusing on more densely populated areas where the reckless discharge of firearms could result in severe consequences.

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Legal Classification: What Kind of Offense Is It?

In Texas, offenses are categorized based on their severity, ranging from infractions to felonies. According to this particular statute, recklessly discharging a firearm within the specified municipalities is considered a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties associated with Class A misdemeanors in Texas can include fines and jail time, which reflects the gravity of this offense.

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Overlapping Jurisdictions: Can You Be Charged Twice?

One unique aspect of this law is its provision for situations where the act may fall under multiple sections of the Penal Code. Texas Penal Code § 42.12 explicitly states that if an individual’s conduct constitutes an offense under this section and another section of the Penal Code, the individual can be prosecuted under either section. This allows for flexibility in legal proceedings and does not restrict prosecution to this statute alone.

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Local Government Autonomy: Can Municipalities Have Their Own Laws?

Another important element of this statute is that it does not override the authority of individual municipalities to enact their own laws concerning the discharge of firearms. Subsection (d) of the statute makes it clear that municipalities retain the right to enact ordinances that might prohibit the discharge of a firearm within their jurisdiction. This allows for local governments to have more stringent laws if they see fit, offering an added layer of regulation on top of the state law.

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Local Laws in Georgetown Regarding Unlawful Discharge

In Georgetown, Texas, Ord. No. 2009-07, § 2 prohibits the firing or discharge of any weapons, including air-powered weapons, firearms, archery devices, and other weapons within the city, whether it be for hunting, sports, or any other reason. However, there are certain exceptions under Ord. No. 2009-07, § 2:

  • If state or federal laws allow for it.
  • In certain areas outside the main city or areas annexed by the city:
  • Shotguns, air guns, BB guns, or bows and arrows can be discharged on land that’s 10 acres or more, as long as they’re fired over 150 feet away from buildings on neighboring properties and not in a way that the projectile is likely to leave the property.
  • Center or rim fire rifles or pistols can be discharged on properties of 50 acres or more, again, they need to be fired more than 300 feet away from neighboring buildings and shouldn’t have projectiles cross property lines.
  • Inside shooting galleries or gunsmith establishments.
  • If someone has a special permit issued by the city.

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Challenging The Element Of “Recklessness”

One of the key elements that the prosecution must prove for a conviction under § 42.12 is that the defendant acted “recklessly.” In the legal context, recklessness usually means that the person was aware of but consciously disregarded a substantial risk. If it can be demonstrated that the discharge of the firearm was not reckless but instead accidental or due to some other factor, this could serve as a defense.

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Questioning The Municipal Population Criteria

Texas Penal Code § 42.12 applies specifically to municipalities with populations of 100,000 or more. One possible defense could involve challenging the classification of the municipality where the alleged offense took place. While § 42.12 does not restrict municipalities from enacting their own firearm discharge laws, it’s possible that local ordinances may provide certain exceptions or additional requirements that could serve as a defense. If a local ordinance conflicts in a manner that is beneficial to the defendant, it might be possible to use that local law as a basis for the defense.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm in Texas Under Penal Code § 42.12

What Does “Recklessly” Mean In This Statute?

The term “recklessly” implies a level of conscious disregard for the outcome of one’s actions. In the context of § 42.12, recklessly discharging a firearm means that the person was aware that firing the weapon could result in substantial risk to others but chose to do it anyway. It is an essential element that the prosecution must prove for a conviction under this statute.

Does This Law Apply to All Municipalities in Texas?

No, this law specifically applies to municipalities with a population of 100,000 or more. If the alleged incident occurred in a smaller municipality, then this particular statute would not apply, although other laws might.

What Is The Penalty for Violating § 42.12?

Violating this statute is classified as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. A Class A misdemeanor can lead to significant penalties, including possible jail time and fines.

Can I Be Charged Under Another Law for the Same Act?

Yes, the statute explicitly states that if your conduct also falls under another section of the Texas Penal Code, you could be charged under either or both. This is known as dual prosecution and means that the prosecution has flexibility in the charges they can bring against you.

Can Local Municipalities Enact Stricter Laws?

Yes, the statute allows municipalities the freedom to enact their own ordinances regarding the discharge of firearms. These can be more stringent than state law, offering another layer of regulation.

What Are Some Possible Defenses to a Charge Under § 42.12?

Defenses could include challenging the element of “recklessness,” questioning whether the municipality meets the 100,000 population criteria and looking into other overlapping sections of the Penal Code that might offer more favorable conditions for defense.

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Areas We Service

We service cities in Williamson County such as:

We also service cities in Bell County such as:

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Discharging a Firearm in a Municipality Resources

View the full text of the chapter of the Texas Penal Code dedicated to discharging a firearm in a municipality. Each statute provides a description of the offense as well as applicable penalties. Certain laws also include notes of amendments that modify the statutes.


Need Legal Help? Reach Out to Price & Twine, PLLC Immediately

If you have been charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in Georgetown, Texas, immediate action is crucial. Secure your future by entrusting your case to Price & Twine, PLLC, experienced attorneys in criminal defense law in Williamson County. For personalized, professional legal counsel, contact us at (512) 354-1880 or reach out to us online. Take the first step toward safeguarding your rights and freedoms.