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What are Gun Crimes in Corpus Christi, Texas?

According to the Texas Penal Code, a gun crime is committed in Corpus Christi when there is a violation in regards to weapon ordinances and laws. Although Texas has less restrictive gun laws compared to the rest of the country, particularly regarding open carry and permitless carry, it is not the case that firearms are allowed in all places or situations. There are a number of gun crimes that one can commit in Corpus Christi, including:

  • Unlawful possession of firearm - possession of a firearm in violation of weapon ownership laws, such as carrying in open sight, carrying while intoxicated, and so on; either a class A misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony depending on the specific offense
  • Unlawful carrying of weapon - carrying a firearm in an illegal setting or situation; class A misdemeanor with charges of one day to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
  • Prohibited weapons - possession of an illegal firearm; 3rd degree felony with charges including up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Carrying weapon prohibited place - being in possession of a firearm in a prohibited place; 3rd degree felony with charges of minimum two years to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Unlawful carrying handgun by license holder - either a class A misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony depending on the specific offense
  • Unlawful transfer of firearm - an illegal exchange of possession of a firearm; class A misdemeanor or a state jail felony if it involves a minor
  • Gun smuggling - illegal import or export of firearms; more than two guns is a 2nd degree felony with charges of a minimum of two years up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000; one or two guns is a 3rd degree felony with charges of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000

How Many Gun Crimes are Committed with a Legally Obtained Firearm in Corpus Christi?

It was reported in 1991 that among inmates in the U.S. who possessed a handgun, 9% had stolen the firearm and 28% had acquired it illegally, such as through a drug dealer. Texas is home to the largest number of gun owners in the United States with an estimation of at least 36% of Texans owning guns, as of 2019. These statistics contribute to the gun crimes and firearm violence that occurs in Texas. There were approximately 3,683 gun-related deaths in Texas in 2019 and other gun crimes include fatal domestic violence cases, minor deaths in accident shootings, and illegal export of firearms. 

According to a study conducted in the U.S. in 2003, there is an increased risk of homicide in domestic violence cases if one of the partners has access to firearms. The study suggested that abusers with access to guns are five-fold more likely to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. In 2020, 228 Texans were killed as a result of domestic violence. Approximately 67% of intimate partner homicide victims were killed with a firearm. 

Texas law prohibits people who have domestic violence convictions from purchasing a firearm. It is the second-most frequent reason for a rejected firearm purchase application. The importance of a background check is evident given these statistics as a person who has been convicted of domestic violence or is under a protective order due to family violence is more likely to commit a gun crime.

Who Can Possess a Gun in Corpus Christi?

As of September 2021 in Corpus Christi, a license is not required to carry a handgun, openly or concealed. Other types of firearms such as shotguns, rifles, and semi-automatic rifles did not and still do not require a license for open carry in public areas. According to Texas law, a person can possess a gun in Corpus Christi under the following requirements:

  • Lawful resident of Texas for at least 6 months prior to application date or possess a non-resident license
  • At least 18 years old to buy a rifle and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun
  • No felony convictions
  • No Class A or Class B misdemeanor convictions currently and in the last 5 years
  • Not a fugitive from justice
  • Not a chemically dependent person
  • Able to exercise sound judgment in regards to how to properly store a handgun
  • Fully qualified under federal and state law to purchase a handgun
  • No delinquencies in making child support payments
  • Not currently under a court protective order or a restraining order in a spousal relationship
  • Has not been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct which violates a penal law of the grade of felony
  • No material misrepresentation in a submitted application.

The following people are prohibited from owning a gun in Texas:

  • A person who has been convicted of a felony within five years of being released from confinement. After five years, a person convicted of a felony may possess a firearm only at the premises where they live
  • A person convicted of domestic violence offenses within five years of being released from confinement
  • A person under 21 years of age outside of the premises of his property
  • An undocumented immigrant.

What if My Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in Corpus Christi?

In Texas there are 186,548 stolen firearm reports between the years of 2007 and 2016, leading the nation in the number of stolen guns. Furthermore, this quantity is likely undercounted as Texas does not mandate the reporting of stolen firearms to the police. In June of 2019 more than 90 firearms had been reported stolen from vehicles in Corpus Christi. Firearm thefts were higher in previous years in Corpus Christi with 271 reported counts of firearms stolen from vehicles in 2018 and 618 in 2017.

The Corpus Christi Police Department urges citizens to not store guns in their cars as this is where they are commonly stolen from, and stolen guns are most commonly used in crimes. Therefore, the Corpus Christi Police Department provided gun locks to residents of Corpus Christi who wanted them to try to prevent the crimes from taking place.

If a personal gun is stolen and used in crime there could be serious consequences, such as allegations of conspiracy to commit a crime. Steps must be taken to help prove that the gun was genuinely stolen. Otherwise the gun owner risks being accused of knowingly transferring a weapon into the hands of a criminal, which is a serious gun crime in Corpus Christi.

Although there are 1.4 million people in Texas who have a state-regulated license to carry, due to the lack of gun registry mandates, there are only 725,368 guns registered in Texas. This disparity will be larger now as there is no longer a state-license mandate in order to carry a handgun. Therefore, to protect against the consequences of gun theft, the first step is to keep a personal record of firearms. Document each firearm’s make, model, and serial number, and keep a copy of the receipt proving purchase. The next step is to contact an attorney to discuss the details of the incident. It is crucial to discuss the situation with a lawyer before contacting the police to be sure not to incriminate oneself. After contacting a lawyer, report the theft to the police. 

Although reporting a stolen firearm to the police is not a legal mandate in Corpus Christi, it will decrease culpability in the event of the stolen gun ever being used in a crime. The intention is to break the “chain of custody” in order to protect oneself from any link to the weapon being used to commit a crime. The police will document the firearm as stolen into a database used by law enforcement.

How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in Corpus Christi?

Texas recently passed a permitless carry law which allows citizens to carry handguns in public without a permit or proper training. This law was passed with the justification that it can help prevent crime because people will have a way to protect themselves in the face of criminals. However, research suggests that there is an increase in crimes following permitless carry mandates because more people resort to gun violence to settle disputes and disagreements. Certain studies have suggested that crime rates go up 10% to 15% in states with open carry laws. Authorities in Corpus Christi, Texas worry that this new law will increase crime and violence, as well as result in more firearms being stolen and ending up in criminal hands. The Police Assistant Chief of Corpus Christi stated that most stolen guns are used in shootings, homicides, and violent crimes. 

Citizens of Corpus Christi argue that the permitless carry law will help prevent and stop crime because people will be able to defend themselves against criminals, however, there are multiple reports of gun violence being used to settle petty disputes. Corpus Christi news reports multiple cases, including a man being threatened by a handgun for honking at another car, someone opening fire at a nail salon over a disagreement about pricing, as well as a 17 year old boy being killed in a road rage shooting. There are currently no reports of guns being used to stop or prevent crimes in Corpus Christi.

Consequences for Immigrants with Gun Crime Convictions

A non-citizen immigrant in the United States is prohibited from purchasing and owning firearms. Under U.S. immigration law, immigrants convicted of a firearm offense could face deportation, downgrade of legal status, or even be banned from ever reentering the United States. This includes serious crimes such as misdemeanors and felonies, however almost any conviction relating to a firearm could result in deportation of a permanent resident. There are a number of crimes and non-criminal acts that could result in an immigrant being removed from the country, including trafficking of firearms and concealed weapons charges. However, these consequences apply to immigrants who have been convicted, not merely accused, of a gun violation. 

Regarding immigrants who were granted asylum in the United States, a conviction will only result in deportation if it was a particularly serious or aggravated offense. In Corpus Christi, Texas, criminal offenses that involve firearm possession are considered aggravated felony offenses and have the same consequences as other serious crimes, such as rape.

Federal firearm offenses that are considered deportable crimes for U.S. non-citizens include:

  • Purchasing a firearm
  • Selling a firearm
  • Offering for sale
  • Exchanging a firearm
  • Using/owning a firearm
  • Carrying a firearm
  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above.

Corpus Christi Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys

All gun violations could be defended by a weapons charge attorney in Corpus Christi. This includes unlawful possession of a weapon, felon in possession of a weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, threat with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, theft of a firearm, sale of an illegal weapon or gun, and unlawful possession of a weapon in an airport.

Criminal defense lawyers can use a variety of exemptions that apply to most gun charges to defend against gun violation charges. Weapons and firearms violation attorneys are well informed of the nuanced gun laws and Constitutional protections the police have to abide by which will aid in representing the client effectively against gun crime charges.

In Corpus Christi, examining certain circumstances surrounding a gun violation is a common strategy used by criminal defense lawyers to help defend a gun charge. Such examinations include the arguing the intention with the weapon, the exact use of the weapon, arguing self defense, previous criminal history or lack thereof, state of mind at time of offense, events leading to the incident, and how the evidence was handled.

Common defenses that an attorney will use against a weapons violation includes:

  • Claiming the defendant (the person accused of a gun violation) lacked the intent or knowledge required to be convicted of an offense
  • Illegal obtainment of evidence by the police which is in violation of the defendants rights
  • Claiming the defendant was not involved in the crime by proving that a witness misidentified the defendant
  • Interpreting the evidence to exonerate the defendant
  • Claiming defendant was unaware of the fact that they were violating a weapon law
  • Exemplifying that the defendant no previous criminal record and has outstanding moral character 
  • Challenging true possession of a weapon
  • Fourth amendment violations
  • Fifth amendment violations
  • Self-defense legal justification.

Gun Enhancement Defenses

A gun enhancement charge is an additional charge by the prosecution tacked on to an existing offense that one was charged with. This is typically done in order to lengthen the punishment for the perpetrator. For example, someone charged with assault can also be charged with a weapons charge if they allegedly used a weapon in the assault. This will increase the consequences for the defendant exponentially as well as create difficulty for the defense as now there are two separate charges that the defendants legal team must fight against.

Typically, similar defenses can be used against gun enhancement charges that are used for firearm offense charges. Defenses are typically made by claiming that law enforcement violated the defendant's Second, Fourth, or Fifth Amendment rights. The most common defense for a gun enhancement charge is that of the Second Amendment, more commonly known as an individual's right to self defense. An attorney can argue that the defendant reasonably feared imminent harm and used the firearm to protect oneself or others, which is a constitutional right. A defense claiming violation of the Fourth Amendment will state that any evidence gathered was done so illegally, or during an “unreasonable” search and seizure from the government. This will eliminate any evidence gathered. A Fifth Amendment violation defense will protect the defendant from incriminating oneself, therefore the burden of providing evidence and proving the crime beyond reasonable doubt is on the prosecution.