Are Private Militias Legal in Texas?

Are Private Militias Legal in Texas? We live in chaotic and troubling times. Much is going on in the world, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed or alone. It’s only natural to want to defend oneself, but it is equally important to know the laws regarding private militias in the state of Texas. Breaking the laws of the state can land you in hot water.

What is a militia?

There are government-sanctioned organized militias, like the Coast Guard, the Naval militia, and the “unorganized militia” which includes every male between 17 and 45 years of age. This does not mean that members of the public can gather together with weapons and form their own militia, however. It means that the government can call upon its public if necessary to fight or serve the military. This is stated in Tex. Gov’t Code § 437.208: “Except as provided by Subsection (b), a body of persons other than the regularly organized Texas military forces, the armed forces of the United States, or the active militia of another state may not associate as a military company or organization or parade in public with firearms in a municipality of the state.”

So, if you are a part of a group that is acting in a militaristic sense, brought together by personal, political, or religious means, then the group is acting illegally and can be charged with crimes. That is to say, private militias are not legal in Texas.

What charges are associated with militias?

Though simply being in a militia is illegal in Texas, there are a number of potential charges you may face even if you are not a part of an illegal group. These include:

  • Unlawful carrying of a weapon: If you bring a weapon into a prohibited place, you can be arrested for unlawful carrying. It can be a simple enough mistake, and our attorneys fight so that you don’t lose your right to carry.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm: “Illegal possession of a firearm occurs when an individual has a firearm within five years of being convicted of a felony, released from community supervision, probation, confinement from a felony or from domestic violence or assault.”
  • Unlawful discharge of a firearm: Discharging your firearm in a public space or on a public road is an arrestable offense.
  • Firearms trafficking: If you are knowingly transporting or transferring illegally acquired guns and firearms, then you can be charged with trafficking firearms.
  • Disorderly conduct: This is usually defined broadly as “disturbing the peace” without causing damage or harm to others. Texas Penal Code §42.01 lists many of the actions that would fall under disorderly conduct, including:
    • Uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
    • Abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;
    • Fights with another in a public place;
    • Discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range;
    • Displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;
    • Discharges a firearm on or across a public road;
  • Assault: You can face assault charges if you “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” caused someone bodily harm, threatened to cause someone bodily harm, or caused physical contact that could be interpreted as offensive or provocative. You can face felony assault charges if the alleged victim is a public servant or official, including members of law enforcement, uniformed security guards, emergency workers, and others.

What are the penalties for these charges?

The penalties for firearm charges are as follows:

  • State jail felony weapon offenses: Up to 180 days to two years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony weapon offenses: Up to two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony weapons charges: Up to two to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony weapons offenses: Up to five to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

The penalties for disorderly conduct are a little more flexible in that the penalty given is determined by the judge, and can come with a recommendation by the prosecutor. Most disorderly conduct crimes fall under a Class C misdemeanor, and therefore have some guidelines for penalties:

  • Class C misdemeanor: punishable by a fine of no more than $500.
  • Class B misdemeanor: if the conduct deals with discharging or displaying a firearm in a public place with the intention of alarming others, funeral picketing, obstructing a highway, disrupting a meeting, and making silent or abusive 911 calls, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

If you are charged with felony assault, you face anywhere between two years and a lifetime in prison, and/or up to $10,000 in fine per charge. A conviction will cost you your right to carry a firearm, to vote, or to obtain a professional license or security clearance.

Knowing the laws regarding private militias can help protect you from harm. If you’ve already been charged with such crimes as disorderly conduct or a weapons charge because of your involvement in private group activities, then you need an attorney with extensive legal knowledge and experience who will represent you. The legal team at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm knows how serious these charges can be and how they can affect the rest of your life.

Your desire to protect your rights as an American citizen may end up in disappointment if you end up breaking the law. To keep your Second Amendment rights, you will need a loyal and dedicated attorney who knows the complicated ins and outs of the legal system. At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we will fight for your right to carry, and make sure you get the best representation possible. Contact us today at 254-680-4655. Our offices are located in Killeen and Copperas Cove in Central Texas. You are also welcome to fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.