Your freedom and future are at risk if you’ve been arrested for weapons charges in North Carolina. North Carolina weapons charges carry serious penalties that may include lengthy prison sentences, heavy fines, and a criminal record that could affect you for the rest of your life.
Founding attorney Joel Hancock of Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, has extensive experience advocating for clients charged with state and federal weapons crimes. He has an in-depth knowledge of North Carolina and United States gun laws and uses his knowledge to develop a strategic defense tailored to each client’s case. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation if you’re facing gun or weapons charges.
Types of Weapons Charges in North Carolina
The Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms in the United States. However, restrictions exist on when, where, and how citizens can possess and use weapons in North Carolina. Residents can be charged with a crime for unlawfully possessing, possessing, selling, or using certain weapons.
Carrying a Concealed Gun Without a Permit
North Carolina allows residents to carry concealed weapons, but they must meet specific requirements and undergo a background check or complete an approved firearms training class. Otherwise, someone can be charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon. First-time offenders face class 2 misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 60 days in jail. If you’re charged a second or additional time, you will face a class A felony charge punishable by four months to 2 years in jail.
Possession of Banned Weapons in North Carolina
Certain weapons are prohibited from being owned or carried, such as machine guns, sawed-off rifles, and sawed-off shotguns. Silencers or sound suppressors for firearms are also illegal in North Carolina. Similarly, possessing or carrying a machine gun is considered a class 1 felony charge that carries 3 to 12 months in jail.
Possession of a Weapon as a Felon
If you’ve been convicted of a felony in North Carolina, you cannot lawfully possess a handgun, whether openly or as a concealed weapon. Even if you have otherwise qualified for a concealed carry permit, that permit becomes invalid when you’re convicted of a felony.
Possession of a Handgun on School Property
Residents are not allowed to carry handguns on restricted properties. For example, you cannot carry a firearm openly or with a concealed permit on school property. Illegal possession of a gun on school property is a class 1 felony that carries 3 to 12 months in prison. Legal possession of a handgun on school property is still considered a class 1 felony that carries 3 to 12 months behind bars. Likewise, a person carrying a weapon at a business or event that sells alcohol can face class 1 misdemeanor charges that carry up to 120 days in jail.
Buying or Selling Guns with a Protective Order in Place
If you are the subject of an order of protection related to domestic violence, you cannot buy or possess a gun. Buying or selling a gun could result in you facing class H felony charges that carry four months to 2 years behind bars.
Altering a Weapon’s Serial Number
Removing, destroying, changing, or otherwise altering the serial number on a gun or possessing a gun without a serial number is a class H felony in North Carolina. If convicted, you could face between five months and two years behind bars.
Weapons Charges Related to Minors
In North Carolina, allowing a child to use a firearm is illegal and could result in a class you misdemeanor charge carrying a jail sentence between 1 and 60 days. Additionally, selling a firearm to a minor is a class H felony. Selling any other type of weapon to a minor is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Federal Weapons Charges
In addition to state laws related to firearm possession and sales, federal laws are also in place. Federal law prohibits certain people from owning firearms and other weapons. For example, people considered fugitives from justice, those under indictment for a felony, dishonorably discharged veterans, undocumented immigrants, and those who renounce their US citizenship are restricted from carrying and owning a firearm under federal law. There are also locations where people are prohibited from carrying a firearm, such as federal prisons, federal courthouses, military bases, airports, post offices, and Native American reservations.
Defenses to Weapons Charges
Defending against state or federal weapons charges can be challenging. If you know you’re being investigated for a weapons-related charge or you’ve already been arrested, it’s crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can begin protecting your rights, investigating your case, gathering evidence that supports your case, and developing a legal strategy.
Challenging Constructive Possession
Firearms and weapons-related criminal charges require the prosecutor to prove that the defendant was in actual or constructive possession of the weapon. You may be able to prove that you did not know of the gun’s presence and that you didn’t knowingly exercise control over the gun. Proving that you never possessed a firearm can be an effective legal defense.
Challenging the Police Officer’s Actions Leading to Your Arrest
In the United States, we have constitutional protections, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Any evidence law enforcement officers obtained against you in violation of your constitutional rights must be excluded from the trial. For example, if an officer pulled you over and searched your belongings without enough legal justification, any evidence they obtained against you can be kept out of the trial by filing a motion to suppress the evidence. There are many other legal defenses for weapons charges, and a skilled attorney will be able to identify the best defenses in your case.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re being investigated or you’ve already been charged with a weapons-related charge, it’s essential that you take the charges seriously. You will benefit from the help of an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we will carefully examine the facts of your case, gather evidence in support of your legal defense, and advocate for the best outcome possible. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to discuss your case confidentially in a free consultation.