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It’s not uncommon to hear about people firing firearms on holidays such as New Year’s Eve. But in Texas, it’s illegal to discharge a firearm in city limits – no matter what day it is.
Under Texas Penal Code 42.12, it is illegal to recklessly discharge a firearm “inside the corporate limits of a municipality having a population of 100,000 or more.” To be found guilty under this law, a person must discharge a gun “recklessly.” Courts have generally interpreted this to mean that a person must be firing a gun in a highly populated place and in a way that creates an unreasonable danger.
A defendant must be reckless, not simply with respect to the simple act of pulling the trigger of the firearm itself, but rather, with respect to some circumstance surrounding the conduct of discharging the firearm. The State must allege that the firearm was discharged into the ground or sky amidst a crowd of people, or in the backyard of a residential neighborhood, on the grounds of an elementary school, in the direction of a traffic sign, or in a public park.
Discharging a firearm in certain municipalities is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Probation and deferred adjudication are usually options for Class A misdemeanor sentences, depending on the facts of a case and a defendant’s prior criminal record.
Under Penal Code 22.05, if you discharge a firearm at or in the direction of a person, or a habitation, building, or vehicle and you are reckless about whether the habitation, building, or vehicle is occupied, you can be charged with Deadly Conduct – Discharge of a Firearm, which is a third degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
It is important to note that municipalities may also create their own laws prohibiting the firing of guns within their own city limits. For instance, most large cities in Texas have municipal laws prohibiting the discharge of certain firearms within city limits. Thus firing a gun within the city limits of a large city could lead to both state and city penalties. Even if you live in a town with a population smaller than 100,000, you should check your local municipal code before firing a gun within the city limits.
If you are facing allegations for discharging a firearm in certain areas of Fort Worth or another North Texas city, it’s important to reach out to an experienced lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options. We can help. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation.