What is UCW in Texas? Unlawful Carry of Weapon in Texas

unlawful carry of a weapon

Unlawful Carry of a Weapon

Unlawful Carry of a Weapon, or UCW, refers to offenses involving the illegal possession of a handgun, illegal knife, or club in Texas. This is generally a Class A misdemeanor in Texas although as explained below, it can become a Third Degree Felony under certain circumstances. This article focuses on UCW cases involving handguns. This is covered under Penal Code Section 46.02. This article also discusses UCW cases that can be filed again individuals who have a license to carry. Generally, a person without a felony conviction can carry a handgun:

  • on his own premises;
  • on premises under his control;
  • inside or en route to a motor vehicle owned by the person; and
  • inside or en route to a motor vehicle under his control.

Which Premises can a Person Lawfully Carry in Texas?

For purposes of the Unlawful Carry of a Weapons Charges, premises includes:

  • Real property
  • A travel trailer being used as temporary or permanent living quarters.
  • A camping trailer being used as temporary or permanent living quarters.
  • A truck camper being used as temporary or permanent living quarters.
  • A motorhome being used as temporary or permanent living quarters.
  • A horse trailer with living quarters.
  • A motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters being used as temporary living quarters.
  • A motor vehicle primarily designed as temporary living quarters being used as permanent living quarters.
  • A vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle being used as temporary living quarters.
  • A vehicle that contains temporary living quarters and is designed to be towed by a motor vehicle being used as permanent living quarters.
  • A boat used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
  • A motorboat used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
  • A vessel used or capable of being used for transportation on water.
  • A personal watercraft, other than a seaplane on water, used or capable of being used for transportation on water.

Unlawful Carry of a Weapon – An Exception

An individual is prohibited from possessing a handgun while they are committing an offense (other than an offense punishable by a traffic ticket) – even if they are in a generally permissible place to lawfully carry even without a license.

For example, imagine you put your handgun in your car where the handle is still visible, go to work, and after work you head to happy hour. Now imagine you get stopped and charged with DWI. Under Texas law, the officer can charge you with UCW because you were committing an offense other than a Class C traffic offense. So while you may have never intended to commit the offense of UCW, by possessing a handgun while committing an offense other than a traffic ticket, the officer can charge you with UCW.

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Unlawful Carry of a Weapon – Airports

Another exception to the ability to carry a handgun in Texas is inside airports or other prohibited places. Learn more about Airport UCW cases in Texas.

Unlawful Carry of a Weapon – License Holders

Penal Code Section 46.035 applies to individuals who have a license to carry. This section prohibits displaying a handgun in a public place unless the handgun is in a shoulder or belt holster. The holster exception does not apply if otherwise excluded – such as on the premises of a high school or a college or university. It’s important to note that although campus carry is legal, open carry on a campus is not legal.

License holders cannot carry handguns in areas designated as gun free zones on campus. License holders cannot carry a handgun into a business that gets 51% or more of its income from alcohol, or into government meetings generally, if the license holder is intoxicated, in a correctional facility, in a hospital, in a church, or in an amusement park.

What is the Punishment for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon in Texas?

In general, illegally carrying a handgun without a CHL in Texas is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. However, this punishment range is increased to a third-degree felony if you illegally carry a handgun on any premises licensed or issued a permit by this state for the sale of alcoholic beverages. If charged as a felony, the range of punishment is 2 to 10 years in the penitentiary and up to a $10,000 fine.

Can I Open Carry in Texas?

In order to open carry in Texas, you must obtain a license to carry. Click here for an in-depth discussion of Open Carry in Texas.

Can I Carry a Weapon in a College or University?

Public universities are required to allow handguns in college campuses and dorms. However, college presidents have been given authority to create gun free zones within the campus. Private colleges in the state may opt out of Campus Carry.

Contact Us

If you are arrested or charged for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, call our team of criminal defense attorneys for representation at 817-203-2220. As former prosecutors, our lawyers understand the position that District Attorney’s Offices often take on these types of cases and how to best evaluate your options. Our Board Certified Criminal Lawyers will work through the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence against you and work to negotiate the best possible outcome. You can also contact us online:

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese
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