An increasing number of offenses are being committed with imitation weapons in Texas, according to the authorities. The trend appears to be fueled by a mistaken belief that using a replica gun for a crime will result in a lighter sentence.
The weapons in question include BB guns and other imitation firearms. A recent Associated Press story suggested the replicas are used because they are cheaper and easier for offenders to obtain. There’s also the erroneous belief that offenders will face lower sentences if they are caught using a fake gun than if they are using a real gun.
In Texas, when a victim of a crime believes a weapon pointed at them is real, it’s sufficient grounds to warrant a first-degree felony charge and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Only New Jersey has a similar offense, although the punishment is less harsh there, AP reported. Many other states draw a distinction between a real and an imitation firearm being used in a crime.
Parts of Texas to see a spike in the use of imitation weapons include Waco where a BB gun was recently used in a convenience store robbery.
Johnny Price, owner of Big Iron Handgun License Training, told the TV station NewsWest 9, the restrictions on buying BB and airsoft guns in Texas are minimal.
Arlington has recorded about half a dozen cases over the last few months in which imitation guns have been used for crimes.
A large amount of the cases our Texas criminal defense lawyers see involve brandishing, possessing or using a firearm. If a victim thinks an imitation firearm is real, you are likely to find yourself facing a harsh sentence.
While using fake weapons may not result in lighter sentences in Texas, there’s also a danger that those using them could be shot dead by the police.
Using Imitation Weapons Can Lead to Fatal Police Shootings
Federal regulators require bright markings on all replica guns to make it clear they are not real ones. Tragedies still occur.
Last year a drunk man who pulled out a life-like looking replica run outside a restaurant in Palestine, Texas, was shot dead by police, the Daily Mail reported.
Earlier this year, officials in Cleveland, Ohio, reached a $6 million wrongful death settlement with the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was killed by a police officer while playing with a pellet gun. It was missing the orange tip as is required by federal law.
If you have been charged with an offense involving a firearm whether it was real or imitation, you could be facing the prospect of a first-degree felony charge and life in prison. You need to act fast and should contact Peek & Toland today for a free consultation.