Firearm Smuggling: Texas Penal Code §46.14

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Firearm Smuggling law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you operated a business that deals in illegally-obtained firearms.

Federal law enforcement more frequently prosecutes these types of crimes, but the state can choose to prosecute firearm smuggling if it so chooses.

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The state doesn’t have to prove that the business operated in interstate commerce and can focus on smaller businesses.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 46.14. The law was not updated in 2023. In fact, this law has not been amended since it was enacted in 2009..

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Firearm Smuggling law under Title 10 “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, and Morals,” Chapter 46 “Weapons.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Firearm Smuggling below.

What is the current Texas law about Firearm Smuggling?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Firearm Smuggling in Penal Code Section §46.14 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly engages in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm that the person knows was acquired in violation of the laws of any state or of the United States. For purposes of this subsection, a person is considered to engage in the business of transporting or transferring a firearm if the person engages in that conduct:

(1) on more than one occasion; or

(2) for profit or any other form of remuneration.

How can I be charged with a Firearm Smuggling offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Firearm Smuggling in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 46.14(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Firearm Smuggling in Texas?

Firearm Smuggling offenses have a three-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Firearm Smuggling offense?

A conviction for Firearm Smuggling in Texas is, by default, punished as a third degree felony,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

However, if the state can prove that you smuggled three or more firearms in a single “criminal episode” then a conviction for Firearm Smuggling in Texas is punished as a Felony of the Second Degree,[4] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 20 years.

In addition, prosecutors may seek a one-classification level enhancement for Chapter 46 offenses under the Weapon-Free School Zone Law by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense in a place that you knew was within 300 feet of the premises of a school or at an official school function or game.[5]

Can you get probation for Firearm Smuggling in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Firearm Smuggling, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[6]

Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[7] Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.[8]

What level of crime is Firearm Smuggling in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Firearm Smuggling as either a third degree or second degree felony.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.

^1. Texas Penal Code §46.14. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^3. Texas Penal Code §46.14(b)^4. Texas Penal Code §46.14(b)^5. §46.11, Texas Penal Code^6. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^7. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^8. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure

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