Posted: Fri Feb 13th, 2009 03:01 am
I was arrested for "carrying a prohibited weapon, in a prohibited place" which is a 3rd degree felony in Texas.
I was riding in a crew cab truck with some friends, and they pulled over into a large parking lot off the road to try to find a lighter he had dropped on the floor board of his truck. Well once he stopped we all got out to try to find his lighter since two of the passengers were smokers (cigs not the other stuff) and were having nicotine fits.
While standing here in this dark parking lot around this truck, a Pct. 4 Harris County Constable drove by and took notice of us. He decided to pull into the parking lot and see what we were up to.
He asked what we were doing and we explained and he asked to see ID's from all of us. Well since I was carrying my Glock 23 on me, I gave him my D.L. and my C.H.L. as required by law.
He went to his car to run our ID's and I am sure check for warrants. Well after about 8 to 10 minutes, 2 other police vehicles showed up. He returned to me and asked me to turn around a place my hands on the truck. He then removed my handgun off me, and told me "do you realize this is a school parking lot?". In which I replied "no I did not, but I do not see how that is relevant". He then replied "your carrying a handgun on school grounds". I replied "I understand that, but school premises does not apply to a parking lot for a conceal handgun license holder".
He then laughed at me and told me "I think I know the law better then you". In which I said "well in all respect sir, I am T.C.L.E.O.S.E. (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education) certified just like you, as I graduated from H.C.C. Police Academy and past my TCLEOSE test. I am also a Criminal Justice major and I am very much aware of my rights and what the law says. Maybe you are mistaken, and we can look it up in your Texas Penal Code book."
He laughed at me again, and hand cuffed me, then placed me in the back of his cruiser. I was taken to Cypresswood Pct. 4 holding cell, and then later transferred by bus to downtown Harris County Jail. I had to post a $5,000 bail and then immediately headed for home where I grabbed my Texas Penal Code book from when I was in the police academy.
After a little research I found Texas Penal Code 46.035, "carrying a prohibited weapon in a prohibited place by a CHL holder". See they were trying to charge me with a separate crime, that did not and COULD NOT be charged to me, because I am in fact a "CHL holder".
Now low and behold at the end of the statue it says in big print and I quote:
3) "Premises" means a building or a portion of a
building. The term does not include any public or private driveway,
street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other
So armed with this new found knowledge I went into court my first day (with no attorney) and asked to speak to the district attorney who was in charge of prosecuting me in my case. I tried to show her my penal code book and ask her about the statue, in which she replied very much like the officer with "I went to law school. I am quite aware of what the law says", and blew me off.
When the session started she even told the judge "the prosecution is ready to proceed" which in my book means she had read over the case, and felt she had a firm case here.
Well the judge asked me where my attorney was, and when I told him I did not have one, he quickly advised me to be quite and said we would reset the court date until I could find counsel. I tried to explain to him I did not need a attorney and he again warned me of how serious of a matter this is. I ended up having to say "well I know I have a right to represent myself, so if that is what needs to be done for me to be able to speak, then I will take that right". At that point I am assuming he took me more serious and asked me what it was I wanted to show him.
He looked at my penal code book and read the high lighted section I quoted above. Then closed the book and looked at the front cover. It was a 2 yr old edition, so he asked the district attorney to see her copy of the penal code (a newer copy). He checked in her copy to make sure the law had not been revised in the last two years, then asked the D.A., "can you explain this" in which time she was happy to look at the statue for him.
Well after reading it, she kind of stood there dumb founded and quite. The judge called a five minute recess and told the D.A. he wanted to speak to her in his chambers. Five minutes later they returned and he said "having looked at this new found situation, the case is dismissed".
Now since this is already running long, I will skip quite a few steps and say it was not over there. My Glock was taken as "evidence" for my case. I was told I couldn't have it back by Pct. 4 Constables (where it was locked up in their evidence room) because the D.A. had to sign off on something, even though I had paperwork showing the case was dismissed.
Later a friend's wife, who works downtown in that same criminal court building spoke with the officer for that court room, who spoke with that D.A., who told him to relay the message back down to me that and I quote "hell will freeze over before he gets that handgun back".
Fast forward a year later, and many, many calls later, and leaving about 50 voice mails on the Corporal who was in charge of the evidence room, he called me back and told me I could have my pistol back if I promised to stop calling him. I went up there, signed some piece of paper saying I got the pistol back, and he brought it out to me. I don't know if he just figured the D.A. would surely have forgot about it since it was a year later, or what, but on that day, hell must have froze over.
Also I thought that was the end of that whole ordeal (this happened in March of 2006), and now that I have finished my degree in Criminal Justice, and am trying to go into law enforcement, I have now found out that most departments won't look at me because I was CHARGED with a felony. Yup, that is correct. I have been told that I will probably have to go spend $1,000 to a attorney to go to court and try to get that event expunged of my record.
So all in all, this "know it all" officer who was obviously not very knowledgeable of the law, cost me thousands of dollars, a couple days in jail, and possibly my future career in law enforcement.