Houston Criminal Defense Blog

Give Back My Gun Rights: Convicted Felons & Firearms in Texas

Houston-Criminal-Defense_02-1000-ffccccccWhite-3333-0.20.3-1[1]Houston criminal defense attorneys Billy Skinner and Jim Mount are able to skillfully negotiate an offer of deferred adjudication in lieu of a felony conviction for many of our clients who are charged with a felony offense. When someone accused of a crime enters into a deferred adjudication, he or she pleads guilty to the crime but is not actually found guilty by the court nor sentenced. Instead, the person is placed on probation for a predetermined amount of time. Once probation is successfully completed, the person returns to court; the conviction is “set aside;” and the person is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense to which he pled guilty.

After the successful completion of a deferred adjudication, these people are free to move on with their lives. However, Texas law prohibits felons from possessing a firearm under Texas Penal Code 46.04. Do people who successfully complete a deferred adjudication really fall under the umbrella of a “convicted felon,” thereby sacrificing their right to possess a firearm? That cannot be right!

If there is one thing every American should know about Texas, it is that there is no such thing as eating too much Tex Mex, but if there are two things they should know, the second is that no one should ever try to take away a Texan’s gun.

Texas law protects its citizen’s gun rights steadfastly, and this situation is no exception. Those who successfully complete a deferred adjudication and have their convictions set aside are released from all penalties associated with that conviction. In Texas, this release from penalties includes the restoration of their right to possess a firearm (with a few exceptions for specific types of charges). The Texas Attorney General’s Office wrote an opinion, which affirms this blog post.

Under federal law, convicted felons are also prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). To determine what constitutes a “convicted felon” in the federal law world, courts look to the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held—in many of our cases, Texas. Since Texas law holds that a person who successfully completed deferred adjudication does not qualify as a “convicted felon,” the Feds will agree. Viva gun rights and never-ending Tex Mex in the good ole Lone Star State!

If you need help reclaiming your gun rights after a successfully completed deferred adjudication, contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer from Billy Skinner & Associates.