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What are Gun Crimes in San Antonio, Texas?

Gun crimes in San Antonio involve the unlawful possession of firearms. A crime may be committed whether the gun is loaded or not. However, not every possession of a firearm is a crime. The second amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every person’s right to possess firearms. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court restated this right. Texas law, which is applicable in San Antonio, regulates how individuals can express these rights. These laws determine who is exempted from exercising the right and where the right can be exercised.

The prosecution needs to show the following to prove that a person is guilty of an offense relating to gun possession in San Antonio:

  • That the person possessed the weapon. The prosecution can show this by establishing that the person was in physical possession of the firearm. Constructive ownership can also be applied if the firearm is in the person’s house or car.
  • That the weapon in question is a firearm under the Texas Penal Code. Title 10, Chapter 46, Sections 46.01 defines a firearm as any weapon that expels a projectile through a barrel with energy generated by an explosive or burning substance. Firearms in San Antonio include revolvers, pistols, and rifles.
  • That the defendant had the mental element necessary to sustain a conviction. Gun crimes in San Antonio are not strict liability offenses. The person being charged should have committed the crime intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. If the person’s possession is a result of another person’s actions and they could not have reasonably known, then they shall not be convicted.
  • That the person did not have a license to carry the firearm or acted outside the scope of the license.

Texas regulates how individuals can keep and use guns in San Antonio. There are some offenses relating to how firearms are stored or carried. Any person involved in any of these offenses may face a criminal charge in San Antonio and could lose their right to carry firearms. Generally, firearms should have a safety device and should be securely kept. There are several possible charges for gun crimes in San Antonio with different punishments. Some of them include:

  • Unlawful carrying of weapons. A person commits this offense if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carry a handgun on their person. The person should be younger than 21 years old or should have been released after being convicted of a felony within the preceding five years. Any person convicted of the offense shall be punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines. The offense is a class A misdemeanor.
  • Carrying a weapon in a place where it is prohibited. These places include educational institutions, polling places, racetracks, government courts, and correctional facilities. Any person that commits the offense is liable for the commission of a class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines. Carrying weapons in a correctional facility or in a place where beverages are served commercially is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to ten years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Unlawful carrying of a handgun by a license holder. A person commits this offense if they carry a handgun outside a holster in a public place. The offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to a year or fines up to $1,000.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm. A person commits this offense if they possess a firearm outside where they live within five years after being released from a conviction for a felony. This includes paroles, imprisonment, community supervision, and mandatory supervision. The offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for two to ten years and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Unlawful transfer of certain weapons. A person commits this offense if they sell, rent, lease, loan, or give a handgun to certain persons that should not have it. This group of people includes intoxicated persons, minors under 18 years old, or a person that would use the gun for an unlawful act to the initial possessor’s knowledge. The offense is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. If the gun is given to a child under 18 years old, it is a state jail felony, punishable by imprisonment for 180 days to two years and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Making a firearm accessible to a child. A person commits this offense if a child gains access to a firearm and the person failed to secure the firearm or kept it somewhere the child could reasonably have gained access. The actor should have been criminally negligent. An offense of making a firearm accessible to a child is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. If the child discharges the weapon and causes death or serious bodily injury, the offense shall be a class A misdemeanor punishable by jail time for up to a year and fines up to $1,000. A child for the purpose of the offense is any person under 17 years old.
  • Firearm smuggling. This offense is committed by any person who knowingly engages in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm that was obtained in violation of any state or federal law in the United States of America. The offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to ten years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

How many Gun Crimes are Committed with a Legally Obtained Firearm in San Antonio?

The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains gun crimes statistics within the state. In 2020, the Department recorded 114 crimes committed by individuals with a license to carry. Compared to 2019, there was a reduction in the crimes recorded by 89%, as 215 crimes were 

Who Can Possess a Gun in San Antonio?

San Antonio laws allow most people to possess a gun within the City even without a license. Interested persons may obtain a license from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Department licenses individuals to carry guns in all of Texas, including San Antonio, conducts criminal history background checks on applicants, and monitors currently licensed individuals to ensure their eligibility. However, Texas is a permitless carry state and individuals without licenses can carry firearms in public as long as they are concealed or holstered. Persons who cannot possess guns in public include:

  • A person convicted of a felony, before the fifth anniversary of the person’s release from confinement or supervision. After five years, a person convicted of a felony may only possess a firearm where they live.
  • A person convicted of some offenses relating to domestic violence may not possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of their release from confinement or supervision.
  • A person under 21 years old cannot possess a firearm outside of their property.

What if My Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in San Antonio?

The result of having a stolen gun used in a crime in San Antonio would depend on the circumstances. Generally, gun owners should store their guns securely. In the absence of recklessness in storing the weapons, the owner of the firearm has no criminal liability. Failure to report the theft of a gun is not a crime in San Antonio. However, it might be helpful to report a stolen firearm once the owner becomes aware of it. This breaks the chain of custody and allows the owner of the firearm to more easily separate themselves from any crime that may be committed with the gun.

How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in San Antonio?

Pursuant to the Texas Penal Code, a peace officer and any person acting under their direction may use a firearm to make an arrest. However, before using a firearm to stop a crime or make an arrest, certain conditions must be met. The peace officer or the person acting under the peace officer’s direction should reasonably believe that the crime being committed involves the use of deadly force or the person would cause the death or serious injury of someone if the arrest is postponed. Using deadly force to stop a crime should be a last resort and alternative options should be explored if they are available.

Private persons can also use firearms to stop the commission of a crime even if they are not acting under the instruction of a peace officer. However, it should be in self-defense, defense of property, or defending another person. Any force used should not be excessive and should be reasonable in the circumstances. Otherwise, the person may be prosecuted.

Consequences for Immigrants with Gun Crime Convictions

An immigrant with a gun crime conviction in San Antonio may be deported or removed from the United States of America. A conviction for an offense involving a firearm is one of the grounds for the deportation of an immigrant. Therefore, the consequences may be very severe. Courts will usually inform a defendant of the potential consequences if they are making a guilty plea, a no-contest plea, or admitting to sufficient facts that may establish guilt.

San Antonio Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys

A weapons and firearms violation attorney is important during a firearm prosecution in San Antonio. Such an attorney will have experience and knowledge of Texas gun crime law and handling cases regarding the subject matter. Individuals usually have the option of defending themselves during a gun crime prosecution in San Antonio. However, a conviction can have severe consequences. The defendant may lose their license to possess or carry firearms, pay fines up to thousands of dollars, and possible imprisonment. Consultation with an experienced lawyer is important to obtain the best outcome.

A weapons and firearms lawyer in San Antonio usually helps a defendant navigate the entire prosecution process, from the pretrial stage through the trial stage. The lawyer handles the necessary paperwork and guides the defendant through the process. Gun crimes in San Antonio are usually prosecuted at the Bexar County Criminal District Court. A gun crime attorney would have experience handling such matters in a district court, including familiarity with the rules and procedures of the court.

Weapons and firearms violation attorneys can use several defenses to either secure acquittal or reduce the penalty for a defendant. The defenses an experienced lawyer will use depend on the particular case. Some of the possible defenses include:

  • A motion to suppress evidence. This defense is often used in cases where the law enforcement authorities or prosecution obtain evidence illegally. One common situation is evidence obtained through search and seizure without just cause. A police officer should have reasonable cause before stopping and searching a person or their vehicle. Therefore, if the defendant challenges this, the officer that arrested the defendant would need to show that they reasonably suspected the defendant of committing a crime. The defendant should have been doing something wrong. In cases where a search warrant was obtained, the lawyer may challenge the validity of the warrant if there was no reasonable cause to grant the warrant. Any evidence that the court finds to have been obtained illegally would be suppressed and cannot be part of the proceedings.
  • Lack of knowledge. Intention, knowledge, or recklessness is necessary to sustain a conviction for most gun crimes. A defendant that is able to show that they could not have reasonably known that the firearm was in their possession may escape conviction. This defense can be used in cases where the firearm was found in a shared space or a place other people had access to.
  • The defendant has the authority to carry the weapon. Law enforcement agents, national guards, and other peace officers have the authority to carry firearms. Some individuals may also obtain a license to carry.
  • Lack of possession. A defendant may raise this defense if the weapon was not in their possession. One situation in which it may be used is if the firearm was found in a vehicle and there were multiple people in the vehicle. In such a case, the defendant can escape conviction if the prosecution cannot reasonably show who the firearm belonged to.
  • The weapon is not a prohibited firearm. A firearm under Texas weapons law is a device that expels a projectile through a barrel with energy generated from an explosion or burning substance. It does not include antique or curio firearms manufactured before 1899 and replicas of such antique or curio firearms. A defendant can escape conviction by showing that the weapon in their possession was not a firearm under the law.

Gun Enhancement Defenses

There are some crimes, such as drug crimes, that may have their penalties enhanced if a firearm was used in the commission of the crime. Some defenses that may be used specifically in such situations, such as:

  • The defendant did not commit the underlying crime. If the defendant can prove that they did not commit the underlying crime, then the penalty cannot be enhanced in the absence of a conviction.
  • A motion for suppression of evidence. Just like in a standard charge relating to firearm possession, any evidence collected in violation of the defendant’s rights may be suppressed.
  • The defendant was not in possession of a firearm. If the defendant can prove this, the penalty will not be enhanced.