First, a warning. Whether you can be convicted of going onto a premise in Texas with a firearm (including a handgun) depends on many factors. Federal laws regulate federal property such as post offices, federal courthouses and parks. Congress has also passed laws to make all local schools "weapons-free" zones.
Numerous state statutes prohibit the possession of firearms (not just handguns) or other prohibited weapons at various places in Texas (including, but not limited to, jails and prisons, certain recreational lands, some locations that sell alcohol, some governmental offices, racetracks, secured areas of airports, polling places, at or near places of execution, on the premises of any government court or offices utilized by the court, and at schools, school buses and certain school events). Business owners can also prohibit their employees from "carrying."
Section 46.03 of the Texas Penal Code contains a partial list of such places. Section 46.035 further prohibits carrying even licensed handguns at various places such as some locations that sell alcohol, most sporting events, at correctional facilities, at nursing homes or hospitals (without written permission), at any meeting of a governmental entity, at amusement parks, and on the premises of a church, synagogue or other established place of worship.
Some of these §46.035 prohibitions control even in the absence of proper §30.06 notice. There are other places open for concealed carry unless the proper notice is given. This FAQ deals only with the effect of proper §30.06 notice on CHLs and criminal trespass.
Section 30.05 of the Texas Penal Code deals with Criminal Trespass. Under the statute, a person commits the offense of trespass if he enters or remains on or in the property of another (including vehicles and buildings) without effective consent and he had "notice" that the entry was forbidden or he received "notice" to depart, but failed to do so.
"Notice" means oral or written communication by the owner or someone with "apparent authority" to act for the owner. Notice can also be a fence, or a sign posted on the property or at the entrance to the building reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden. It can also be purple paint marks on trees (!). Lastly, the visible presence on property of a crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation is notice in itself that entry is forbidden.
Remember that having a CHL does not exempt one from the basics of the Criminal Trespass Statute (§30.05). A CHL can be charged with trespass just like anyone else. But §30.05(f) deals with the special circumstance where the very basis of the trespass is the presence of a concealed handgun. Section 30.05(f) states that it is a defense to prosecution under §30.05 that (a) the basis on which entry is forbidden is that entry with a handgun is forbidden and (b) the person carrying a concealed handgun has a CHL of the same category as the handgun being carried.
However, what §30.05 giveth, §30.06 modifies. Section 30.06 deals with those special circumstances when a CHL can be charged with trespass. Section 30.06 is titled "Trespass by Holder of License to Carry Concealed Handgun." It addresses some of the unique questions presented by CHLs and the issue of trespass.
A CHL commits a trespass under §30.06 if (1) the CHL carries a handgun on property of another without "effective" consent and (2) the CHL receives notice that entry on the property by the CHL with a concealed handgun is forbidden or (3) the CHL receives notice that remaining on the property with a concealed handgun is forbidden and the CHL fails to depart.
The real problem is what it means to receive "notice."
Notice can be oral or written. The statute provides no magic words necessary to receive oral notice. If either the owner, or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner, tells a CHL to leave, the CHL must leave. Period. Of course, if the CHL is truly concealing the handgun, it will be rare indeed that the CHL will receive oral notice to leave.
The more common situation the CHL will face is a sign that attempts to give the CHL "written communication" that the CHL is not welcome if the CHL is carrying concealed.
If the property owner (or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner) posts a sign, the sign must comply with the requirements of §30.06 to be effective notice to a CHL.
"Written communication" means either:
(1) a card or "other document" that has written language "identical" to the following:
"Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun;" or
(2) A sign posted on the property that:
(a) "includes" the above language in both English and Spanish;
(b) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
(c) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
Thus, according to the statute, a proper §30.06 sign must have language identical to that quoted above, and the sign must be in both English and Spanish. The letters on the sign must be block letters and they must be at least one inch in height. They must also be of "contrasting colors." Lastly, the sign must be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
As of the date of this FAQ, there are no court cases interpreting these §30.06 requirements.
Effective September 1, 2003 subsection (e) was added to §30.06. It reads:
"It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035."
To read §46.03 (Places Weapons Prohibited)
of the Penal Code,
To read §46.035 (Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder) of the Penal Code,
Question answered 1/20/04
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