From the Houston Chronicle:
A Houston man was arrested after a handgun and bullets were discovered in his luggage at Bush Intercontinental Airport Tuesday evening.
Here’s a news flash for the Chronicle: this happens often in Houston. If not weekly, then every month somebody flakes out and packs his carry-on bag, forgetting until the bag is in the x-ray machine that when he last used the bag he was carrying his firearm. When the TSA brags about the number of firearms it has seized, this is the most common scenario.
If the person has a concealed-handgun license and seems properly surprised, the cops might cut him loose. Otherwise they typically arrest him for felony possession of a firearm in a secured area. Then he makes bail, hires an expensive lawyer, goes to court a few times, appears before the grand jury, and most likely gets no-billed. (The requisite mental state is recklessness.) Then he gets the case expunged, and it’s almost like the whole embarrassing mess never happened.
I suspect that the only reason this even came to the Chronicle’s attention is this is this particular flake’s middle-eastern sounding name.
Strangely, though, Mr. Faraji (who is still in jail in lieu of $1,000 bail) was charged with the misdemeanor of unlawfully carrying a weapon (UCW) on or about that day rather than the felony of possessing a firearm in a secured area.
The requisite mental state for UCW is knowledge; if the State could prove that he knew that the firearm was in his bag that day, they could make the felony case as well.
So why not charge the felony? Because when they allege UCW on or about a particular date, they only have to prove that the crime was committed within the statute of limitations and before the charge was filed.
So even if the State can’t prove that Mr. Faraji recklessly possessed the gun in airport security, they might be allowed to convict him by proving that at some point in the last two years he knowingly carried the firearm outside of his property and his vehicle.
Which is kind of chickenshit, if you ask me, Colleen.