What is a Deadly Weapon Under Texas Law?  And What Does a Deadly Weapon Finding Have on a Case?

There are two ways something can be defined as a deadly weapon in Texas

Under Texas criminal law, there are two ways in which to categorize deadly weapons. The first way is “By design” or “per se.”  Such objects include firearms or “anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury.” Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(a)(17)(A). The second way is by “manner of use.”  This is a very broad category, and can encompass nearly anything. The question is whether the object “in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(a)(17)(B). This means that nearly anything can qualify as a deadly weapon. The question is how was it used or what did the actor want to accomplish in how he or she used the object. For instance, a Texas court has upheld a finding that a dustpan is a deadly weapon under the “manner of use” theory.

Impact of a Deadly Weapon Finding

On way a deadly weapon impacts a case concerns parole eligibility. If a judge or jury finds that an offense involved a deadly weapon, then the defendant is not eligible for parole until he or she serves half of his or her sentence or 30 years, whichever is less, not including good conduct time. And he or she must serve a minimum of 2 years. This means that someone must serve their entire sentence is they are convicted of a deadly weapon offense and sentenced to 2 years in prison.

A deadly weapon finding can also impact an applicable range of punishment. If someone is charged with a state jail felony and the state alleges and proves he or she used or exhibited, then the range of punishment is enhanced to a third degree felony range of punishment (2-10 years imprisonment and optional fine not to exceed $10,000).  Additionally, with a second degree felony or higher, if the defendant receives community supervision and the court finds that a firearm was used or exhibited, then the court may order the defendant to serve 60-120 days in prison as a condition of community supervision.

A deadly weapon finding can have a serious impact on someone facing criminal charges. If you need help fighting a deadly weapon finding, contact the criminal lawyers at The Hardy Law Group, PLLC, to schedule a complimentary consultation.