I knew it had to be the first day of Dove Season. I’m in court in the morning with a client on a felony case who is considering a plea bargain, and one of the first questions I get is this: “If I go on felony probation, can I still go hunting?” Well, the short answer to that, Bubba, is maybe, but how and where you do it may be a lot different than in the past. The “how” problem is simple. Being a convicted felon does not keep you from getting a Texas hunting license.

What you will use to hunt with, however, is a little bit more of a challenge. If you are a convicted felon, you can’t possess a firearm outside of your residence until five years has passed from the date you are released from probation, prison, or parole, whichever comes latest. Possessing a firearm if you are a felon under these circumstances is a separate felony offense. Obviously, if you are convicted and still on felony probation you can’t be roaming around a hunting lease with a rifle.

And by the way, your deer blind does not qualify as a separate “residence” no matter how much time you spend in there and how decked-out it is. But what if you are on deferred adjudication for a felony, and therefore, haven’t been convicted of anything?  Don’t go full Rambo just yet.  Read you conditions of probation.  Judges have wide discretion in setting the conditions of a probation, and judges routinely prohibit the possession of firearms by guys on felony probation, including deferred adjudication. Several of my former clients who are hunters, and who are on felony probation, have come up with creative solution -- they’ve taken up bow-hunting.  

Granted, trying to bring down small birds on the fly with a bow-and-arrow might be a little too tricky.  You may be out of commission for dove hunting, relegated, instead, to stalking God’s furry creatures rather than the feathered ones.  But it’s legal. The “where” problem is one that many people forget.  When you are on felony probation, you are typically prohibited from leaving your county of residence unless you have a travel permit to be elsewhere, say, for work.  If the place where you hunt is in your home county, no problem.  If your deer lease is a couple of hundred miles away, you may be in violation of your probation if you get caught trying to go there.  And if you thought that getting permission from you wife to go hunting was difficult, just watch the expression on your probation officer’s face when you ask her for a travel permit in order to stalk deer.  Might want to look for a lease close to home. Happy hunting.


A dismissal of a Felony Deadly Conduct with a Firearm case five minutes before jury selection, that's how to start off the new year.  My client and I were in Comal County District Court in front of Judge Dib Waldrip this morning, getting ready to select a jury, when the prosecutor asked to approach the bench and told the judge that he had to dismiss the case.  Apparently, it didn't hurt our cause that the so-called "victim" picked up an arrest warrant out of Utah, decided to flee the jurisdiction, and is now a fugitive from justice.  Like Woody Allen once said, 95 percent of life is just showing up.  Sometimes, that's 100 percent of a jury trial, too.  That makes our record a perfect 1-0 for 2009. 

Time to hoist the Skull and Crossbones and sing defense lawyer pirate songs. And just to further prove the existence of a God, and that he has both a sense of humor and of justice, my alma mater, Rice University, won its first college football bowl game in 54 years over the holidays.  My deepest sympathies to those schools who were forced to play their bowl games on New Year's Day because they didn't get selected by the Texas Bowl.    This year, on to the BCS national championship...

U.S. Supreme Court's Second Amendment

What does the U.S. Supreme Court's Second Amendment decision in District of Columbia v. Heller mean for Texas weapons offenses? Absolutely nothing.


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