We can all agree that security at airports is paramount. If something were to go wrong, or someone had the intent to commit a violent crime, a lot of people could get hurt. In an effort to prevent these things from happening, we have the Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and police officers that patrol airports. Your average person can’t bring a gun or other weapon onto their flight without following the proper regulations, because of heightened security. As we all know, everyone, despite their best intentions, can make mistakes sometimes. Whether you had your concealed carry on your person while on airport property, forgot to take your firearm out of your baggage, or accidentally took your gun through TSA, you will likely face criminal charges and civil fines.
Our defense attorneys at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, have helped countless clients get airport gun charges dismissed in the past and may be able to do the same for you. We have routinely represented clients who mistakenly possessed a firearm in their carry-on bag, which was found as they made their way through security at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. We have had great success with these cases. Let us get to know the facts of your case. Schedule a free initial consultation with our criminal lawyers by calling (980) 237-4579 today.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
When facing legal trouble, one of your first thoughts might be whether or not you need a lawyer. At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we often see that people who face misdemeanors try to handle the charges alone—at first. They mistakenly believe that because a misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony, they can defend themselves against an experienced prosecutor.
You need to know that just because a misdemeanor is a less serious crime doesn’t mean the criminal court process gets any easier. The prosecutor is still an experienced attorney for the state and wants to convict you. The prosecutor is hoping you don’t hire a lawyer. It makes their job easier.
To give yourself the greatest chance of success in your case, you need to hire a defense attorney. By having legal representation, you have someone to guide you through the criminal court system, explain your options, and aggressively defend your rights.
Why You Should Hire a Defense Attorney
If you have little-to-no experience with the criminal justice system, then you might know about everything a lawyer does for their client. We take a close look at the facts of the case. No detail is too small to notice. In some circumstances, we pursue an independent investigation of the alleged offense. The point of our initial preparations is to learn everything we can about what happened to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s case and your potential defense. In many cases, we are able to work out a resolution with the state, ultimately resulting in a dismissal, without our client ever having to appear in court.
Being charged with a crime does not mean you will be convicted. A prosecutor’s job is to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high hurdle to cross. Before we even get to trial, we’re pointing out the problems with the prosecutor’s case. If we believe the prosecution has illegally obtained evidence, we’ll file a motion to have that evidence ruled inadmissible. We’ll prepare to vigorously cross-examine the state’s witnesses. We make the prosecution’s hurdle even harder to clear before and during the trial.
Why You Should Hire Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys
Finding the right lawyer for your situation can be tough. You want someone with experience in similar matters, a track record of success, and compassionate toward their clients. At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we provide that winning combination. Ryan Stump previously worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Anthony DelNero also is a former prosecutor. Both attorneys offer unique insight into how the State or federal government approaches misdemeanor and felony cases. Samuel Randall is a Board Certified Specialist in both State and Federal Criminal Law by the North Carolina State Bar. He was originally certified in 2004 and recertified in 2010.
Our team has successfully handled criminal cases across the state in both federal and state courts. Though we can’t promise a specific outcome to your case, we can demonstrate a record of obtaining favorable results for our clients. Take a look at our case results.
Charlotte Ordinance Prohibits Guns at the Airport
If you live or work in North Carolina and own a firearm, you probably know North Carolina is an open carry state. Under the law, you may carry your firearm openly—in certain locations. If you obtain a concealed carry permit, then you may also carry a handgun concealed on your person.
But your right to carry your gun, whether open or concealed, is limited in a variety of ways. In Charlotte, possession of a firearm at the airport is illegal under city ordinance.
Charlotte’s Code of Ordinances Section 15-14 prohibits the possession of dangerous weapons while in or on any real property owned, leased, or under the control of the city, whether that property is within or outside of the corporate city limits. This type of property encompasses local airports, including Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The local ordinance specifically states that “dangerous weapons” include any object or device designed or intended to inflict serious injury upon people or property, such as:
- Knives with blades longer than 3.5 inches, except those used solely for food preparation
- Razors and razor blades, except those used solely for shaving
- Metallic knuckles
- Clubs, blackjacks, and nightsticks
- Dynamite cartridges, bombs, grenades, and other powerful explosives
- Stun guns
- Loaded canes
If you have been charged with violating this ordinance by possessing a firearm, or other deadly weapon, at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, call our defense attorneys immediately. You may be arrested and will be charged with a crime if you are found in possession of a gun or other weapon on airport property. You also will face fines from the TSA. In this situation, the best way to protect yourself is to hire an experienced lawyer to defend you against these weapons charges.
Exceptions to the Airport Dangerous Weapons Ban
There are numerous exceptions to Charlotte’s ordinance against dangerous weapons on city property, which is why it’s important to talk with an attorney right away.
You may not be charged with a crime if you are:
- A law enforcement officer;
- An officer or soldier in the armed forces;
- Any person carrying a dangerous weapon into Charlotte Douglas International Airport with the sole purpose of shipping the weapon in compliance with all federal and state law;
- A person authorized by federal or state law to carry the weapon in the performance of your job; or
- Any person authorized, in writing, by the city manager to carry or possess a dangerous weapon while on or in specific public property.
If you have been charged with violating this ordinance, yet you fit into one of these exceptions, call us at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys today. This may be a strong defense to the charges against you. When there is a relevant exception, we can use this to pursue a dismissal of the charges.
Consequences of a Firearm at the Airport Conviction
If you are caught with a firearm on your person or in your bag at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, you will likely face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. A conviction for this offense brings up to 120 days in jail, fines, and a permanent criminal record. If the judge chooses an intermediate punishment for you, you might avoid time in jail but be subject to probation, house arrest with electronic monitoring, community service, and more.
But your sentence isn’t the end of it. With a weapons offense conviction on your record, you could face many collateral consequences that impact your career, daily life, and family.
TSA Fines for a Firearm at the Airport
In addition to your criminal charge for possessing a firearm at the airport, you will also face very steep TSA-imposed fines. There are strict regulations regarding how you may transport firearms and ammunition through an airport. A gun must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. You must check it and declare it to the airline, and you cannot carry it on the plane. You should never bring a firearm or the locked container to the security checkpoint. Other firearm parts, including magazines, clips, and firing pins, also must be transported in checked luggage.
If a TSA employee finds you have a loaded gun in the airport, you will be charged with a crime and face civil fines. Also, if you have an unloaded gun that is not stored and transported properly, you will face charges and civil fines.
The typical fine for trying to bring a handgun through security is thousands of dollars. For certain types of firearms, like BB guns, compressed air guns, and flare pistols, The TSA fine can be between $330 and $1,960. For an unloaded firearm, you can be fined between $1,960 and $3,920 per violation. Loaded firearms, or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition, can lead to fines between $3,920 and $9,800.
You also may be fined if the TSA finds an inappropriately stored firearm in your checked luggage. The TSA fine can be between $650 and $1,310 for undeclared or improperly packed firearms and between $1,310 and $2,610 for loaded firearms.
When you face thousands of dollars in fines from the TSA, do not assume you should write a check. An experienced defense lawyer can request a hearing with the TSA lawyers and negotiate for lower fines. Our attorneys at Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys are experienced in negotiating with the TSA and getting our client’s fines substantially reduced after they’ve been caught in possession of a firearm at the airport.