One of the most common types of gun offenses we handle at Randall & Stump, PLLC is unlawful possession of a weapon or firearm. There are several North Carolina statutes and Charlotte city ordinances, which prohibit certain individuals from carrying firearms or prohibit firearms in certain places. If the police believe you violated a state law or local ordinance, then you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
This can be extremely frustrating when you are a lawful and responsible gun owner. You may feel strongly that you should not face gun possession charges. Unfortunately, disagreeing with the police or prosecutor will not resolve the situation. Instead, it is important to contact an experienced Charlotte gun charge defense lawyer at Randall & Stump, PLLC.
Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
One of the most significant gun crimes you may be accused of is being a felon in possession of a firearm under NCGS 14-415.1. If you have one or more prior felony convictions, then your gun rights are permanently altered. As a convicted felon, you are not allowed to purchase, own, possess, or have in your custody or control any firearm or weapon of mass death or destruction.
If you are convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, your sentence is based on the minimum and maximum potential penalties for a Class G felony. You may be sentenced to between 10 and 25 months in prison. You also may be fined and subject to months or years of probation.
Other Potential North Carolina Weapon Charges
Your right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is not absolute. The federal government and individual states have the right to implement rules and restrictions in regard to gun ownership, sales and transfers, transportation, and possession. It is these rules that dictate when you can carry your handgun or rifle and where. If you fail to abide by these rules, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
- Carrying a Concealed Weapon (NCGS 14-269): It is illegal for you to willfully and intentionally carry a concealed weapon on your person, including certain knifes, sling shot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razors, stun gun, firearms any other deadly weapon. The only exceptions to this are when you are on your own property, or when you have a Concealed Carry Permit for a handgun (and even then, there are several restrictions). If you do not have a Concealed Carry Permit and have a handgun hidden between the driver seat and center console of your car, that is found during a traffic stop, you will be charged with Carrying a Concealed Weapon. Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, you can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor or Class H felony.
- Possession of Concealed Weapon While Consuming Alcohol (NCGS 14-415.11(c2)): It is illegal for you to carry a concealed handgun while or after you consume alcohol, whether you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon or not. You may not wear your handgun while you are at a bar or restaurant and are drinking alcohol or while previously consumed alcohol remains in your system.
- Possession of a Stolen Firearm (NCGS 14-72(b)(4)): If you are accused of stealing any type of firearm that uses propulsion of a shot, shell, or bullet by the action of gunpowder or any other explosive substances, even if the firearm could not be fired at the time of the theft, with the exception of air rifles and air pistols, you will be charged with a felony.
- Possession of a Firearm With a Serial Number Removed (NCGS 14-160.2): It is illegal to alter, deface, destroy, or remove a permanent serial number or other distinguishing numbers or identification marks on a firearm. Also, knowingly selling, buying, or having possession of a firearm with an altered or removed serial number is a crime. You can be charged with a Class H felony for either of these actions.
- Possession of a Firearm on School Property (NCGS 14-269.2): You can be charged with misdemeanor or felony gun possession if you are found to have a firearm on any educational property, including a bus, school campus or grounds, recreational area, athletic field, or other property owned, leased, or used by the board of education or school board of trustees. Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, Class I felony, or Class G felony.
- Possession of a Firearm at Charlotte Douglas Airport: Under Charlotte’s Code of Ordinances Section 15-14, you are prohibited from possessing a firearm or any other dangerous weapon on property owned, leased, or controlled by the city, which includes Charlotte Douglas International Airport. If you are caught in possession of a gun or other weapon at the airport, you face TSA fines and a separate misdemeanor charge for Possession of a Firearm on City Property.
- Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (NCGS 14-288.8): It is illegal for you to manufacture, assemble, possess, store, transport, sell, offer to sell, buy, offer to buy, transport, give, or acquire any weapon of mass death and destruction, which includes any explosive devices, like bombs, grenades, missiles, or mines, any weapon capable of fully automatic fire, or any type of weapon, other than a shotgun, that can or can be converted to expel a projectile and has a barrel with a more of more than half an inch in diameter.
Potential Jail Time for Gun Possession
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony gun possession offense in Charlotte, you can be sentenced to a term of incarceration.
Many firearm violations are Class A1 misdemeanors and Class 1 misdemeanors, which can be punished with up to 60 days or 45 days of incarceration, respectively, for first offenses. However, if you have one to four prior convictions, you can be sentenced to up to 75 days’ incarceration for a Class A1 misdemeanor.
If you are convicted of a felony offense for unlawful gun possession, then your minimum and maximum penalty depends on the class of the felony, between Class I and Class A. A Class I felony is the lowest possible felony, and it can be punished with four to 10 months of incarceration. The potential maximum punishment increases as you move through the classes.
When you are facing gun possession charges, it is essential you speak with an attorney from Randall & Stump, PLLC as soon as possible. You need to know about the law you are accused of violating as well as the potential penalty. You need to be aware of the factors that may influence your final punishment, including your criminal history. You also will need a Charlotte criminal lawyer to aggressively defend you against a misdemeanor or felony gun possession sentence, which can be harsh.
Pleading Guilty to a Firearm Violation Can Limit Your Gun Rights
When you are charged with a relatively minor firearm offense in Charlotte, the prosecutor may offer you a deal in which you only pay a fine. However, do not immediately say yes to this and write a check. If you pay a fine for gun possession charges, then you are pleading guilty. You are admitting to the offense, and you will have a conviction on your record. This can have serious consequences in the future.
If you have a gun crime conviction on your record, you may have trouble buying new firearms in the future. You may not be able to obtain a concealed carry permit, your permit may be revoked, or your renewal application may be denied.
Before paying a fine for a firearm violation, always call a Charlotte weapon crimes lawyer to discuss your rights and legal options. You may have several defenses available to you. By aggressively defending yourself, your attorney may be able to have the charges dropped or exonerate at trial.
Antique Firearms Exception
At Randall & Stump, PLLC, Charlotte residents often call us and ask: “Can a felon own a black powder gun in NC?” The answer is possibly, yes. These are weapons, also known as muzzleloaders, in which the projectile and propellant are loaded from the muzzle of the gun. Most modern firearms are breech-loading.
The North Carolina law that prohibits a felon in possession of a firearm does not apply to antique firearms defined in NCGS 14-409.11. Antique firearms include any firearm manufactured on or before 1898, any replica of an antique firearm that is not designed to use fixed ammunition, and any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol that is designed to use black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition.
This area of law can be tricky. The antique firearm exception does not include any weapon that is converted into a muzzle loading weapon or any muzzle loading weapon that can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination. To learn more about convicted felon rights in regard to antique guns, call Randall & Stump, PLLC right away.