Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder

By Jeff Kennedy

Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (UCW) Charges In Fort Worth / Tarrant County

Texas is famous for its cowboy culture. However, as a licensed firearm owner, you can still be charged with a crime in Texas for carrying your firearm in certain contexts. Such as open carry in the public, without taking into account specific restrictions. Criminal charges of any kind are serious and have the potential to go on your permanent record, possibly impacting your prospects for employment or renting an apartment, along with a host of other negative effects.

Because of this, if you find yourself facing a charge for unlawful carrying of a firearm by a license holder in Fort Worth, or Tarrant County Texas, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX if you’re going to fight back and clear your name. Read on to learn more about these charges and what they can mean for you.

Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon (UCW) Explained

According to Section 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code  you can be charged with UCW if you recklessly, knowingly or intentionally carried a weapon outside your premises (enroute to vehicle/watercraft) and on your body or in your vehicle.

In the State of Texas, you are unlawfully carrying if you:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun,
  • Carry a handgun during a criminal activity while in a vehicle or watercraft they own or control,
  • Are prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, or
  • Member of criminal street gang as defined by Section 71.01 .

Other prohibited weapons by this law are clubs, knives and blades more than 3.5 inches long under the age of 18 as defined Tex. Penal Code § 46.02

Normally, those who do not have a felony on record can carry a weapon if:

  • Are on your own premises or one under your control
  • In or moving to a motor vehicle you own or under your control.

Premises includes (besides your home/residence):

  • Motorhome, Horse trailer, Truck, camper if built for or used as temporary or permanent living quarters
  • Boats, motorboats, personal watercraft or any vessel capable of transportation on water.

What Is Classified As A Weapon Under UCW?

When a firearm owner in Fort Worth or surrounding Tarrant County is charged with unlawful carry of a weapon, it is labeled as a UCW charge, which is a misdemeanor charge. It’s important to remember that even licensed firearm owners can be slapped with a UCW charge if they carry their weapon in the wrong context. Section 46.035 of the Texas Penal Code is a law that restricts the time and place of individuals with a firearm license to carry.

Under the Texas Penal Code, section 46.01, weapons are defined as:

  • Explosive devices such as grenades, bombs, rockets, etc.
  • Clubs such as nightsticks, tomahawks, maces.
  • Shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches long.
  • Rifles with barrels less than 16 inches long.
  • Rifles and shotguns that have been altered so the entire length is less than 26 inches long.
  • Knives with blades over five and a half inches long including a bowie knife, sword, or spear.
  • Machine guns.
  • Zip guns.
  • Brass knuckles.
  • Firearm silencer.
  • A tire deflation device.

What Are The Penalties for Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon

Class A misdemeanor unlawfully carrying a weapon. Maximum penalties if convicted below:

  • Up to $4,000 in fines
  • 1 year in a county jail

3rd Degree Felony is possible If UCW occurs in a place with a liquor license or sells and distributes alcoholic beverages, the penalties increase.

  • 2 to 10 years state prison
  • Fine of up to $10,000

Class C misdemeanor if convicted of charge or possession of a location-restricted knife.

  • No Jail Time
  • Fine of up to $500.

What About Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm?

It is illegal for certain categories of persons to carry a weapon:

  • If you were convicted of a domestic violence charge and it has been within five years since you were incarcerated or any other sentence like community service.
  • If you have had a felony and served prison time and it has been within five years since you got released.
  • State employees who have a protective or restraining order against them.

Under Texas Penal code, Section 46.02, the State of Texas is required to prove the following elements of the crime of unlawful carrying of a weapon (UCW) beyond a reasonable doubt:

“A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun; (2) at the time of the offense: is younger than 21 years of age; or has been convicted of a felony crime or committed in the five-year period preceding the date the instant offense was committed; and is not on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.”

Under this law, licensed firearm owners are prohibited from displaying a handgun in a public place “in plain view of another person,” unless the firearm is holstered to the shoulder or belt. However, there are also firearm no-tolerance zones in which licensed firearm carriers can be arrested for displaying a weapon even if it is holstered.

Some of these locations include:

It’s also important to note that it’s illegal to carry a gun in the commission of a crime in a setting where it would otherwise be legal. Finally, with respect to colleges and universities, gun owners are advised that although it’s legal to carry a gun in dorms and certain other places on campus, open carry is prohibited and could lead to legal troubles.

If you’ve been charged with a UCW crime and you’re a licensed gun owner, it’s important to speak to a UCW charge attorney as soon as possible to avoid the consequences of a conviction. Call us at 817-605-1010 or fill out the form on our website to schedule a consultation.


Jeff C. Kennedy was the light of hope at the end of very dark storm. He was not only able to defend my case swiftly, but had the alleged charges dismissed completely. His calm and empathetic demeanor offered emotional succor to myself and those I care about most. My children and I are eternally grateful for his excellent service and I hereby recommend Jeff C. Kennedy without reservation.


Jeff Kennedy truly cares. He and his staff kept me informed all the way throughout my case and provided me with all my options and the potential outcomes for my case. When the day finally arrived to resolve my case, Jeff was able to negotiate a reduction to a lesser charge. He was well prepared and coordinated everything perfectly. Jeff is not only a good lawyer, but a good man.


I hired Mr. Jeff Kennedy to handle a DWI charge. From day one, I knew I had picked the right attorney. Jeff always took the time to answer any of my questions, treated me very professionally, and truly cared about my case. I have never been in any kind of trouble before and I was very nervous about the thought of going to trial. Jeff thoroughly explained the entire process to me and made me feel at ease. Jeff took my case to trial and the jury found me NOT GUILTY!


Jeff Kennedy is a professional, intelligent, easy-to-talk-to lawyer with an excellent understanding of how the system works. Jeff was able to get my twice the legal limit BAC thrown out and he kept me from having an interlock device put on my car. This has been my only big mistake in life so far (hopefully the last) and I am glad he was there to walk me through it. You will not regret hiring him.

9133 Belshire Dr
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Fort Worth, Texas 76104
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