In South Carolina, there is a wide range of felony charges related to the use, sale, and possession of guns. Depending on the specific circumstances of each case, illegal firearms charges can range from minor misdemeanor charges to felony offenses that could result in severe penalties and prison time. This article will give you an idea of the types of gun-related criminal charges in South Carolina.
If you have been charged with a firearm-related offense in South Carolina, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney on your side. At Touma Law Group, our experienced team of gun charge lawyers will provide you with a free consultation and case evaluation to determine the best course of action for your situation.
Unlawful Carry Charges in South Carolina
Anyone carrying a handgun in South Carolina must comply with Section 16-23-20 of the South Carolina Code, which specifies the circumstances in which it is lawful to do so. Law enforcement officers on official duty are allowed to carry firearms, as are members of the armed forces when they are on duty. Members of gun clubs and their guests can also transport firearms for target shooting or gun collecting when authorized by law.
Those participating in hunting or fishing activities may also carry a handgun to and from these activities if properly licensed to do so. Additionally, individuals regularly engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, repossessing, or dealing in firearms may possess, use, or carry a handgun in the usual or ordinary course of their business.
Violations of this law can result in serious criminal offenses including illegally carrying a firearm (a Class I felony under SC Code Section 16-23-420) or possession of weapons during the commission of a violent crime (Section 16-23-460(C)(2)). Therefore it is important to be aware of and understand Section 16-23-20 before carrying a handgun anywhere within South Carolina's borders.
Unlawful Possession of a Handgun
The possession of a handgun by someone prohibited from doing so is against the law in South Carolina. This means anyone who has been convicted of a crime of violence, is a fugitive from justice, is a habitual drunkard or drug addict, or has been “adjudicated mentally incompetent” isn't allowed to own or possess a handgun in the state.
Furthermore, it's a crime to deliver, lease, rent, barter, exchange, transport for sale into the state, or offer any type of handguns to those that fit the aforementioned criteria. The consequences of these laws are serious and can include up to 5 years in prison and up to $5k in fines per handgun found in illegal possession.
These laws demonstrate how seriously South Carolina takes firearm safety and its enforcement as they guard individuals against potential dangers from those who may be recklessly using firearms due to their background. It's important for individuals that possess firearms to be aware of these regulations and be cognizant about selling them with the proper background checks for all parties involved.
Pointing or Presenting
Pointing or presenting a firearm in South Carolina is illegal according to Section 16-23-410 of the SC Code. This charge applies regardless of whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded, and it requires an individual to face up to five years in prison or a costly fine at the court’s discretion. It is important for individuals in South Carolina to note that even though they may be carrying a firearm for self-defense, simply pointing it at someone else can result in criminal charges.
Similarly, any theatrical performance involving firearms must be taken with great caution, as even if it is just part of the act, displaying a firearm will still lead to charges. Furthermore, SC Code 16-23-410 also states that pulling out any weapon with intent to cause fear has the potential to be prosecuted under this law. Therefore, it is vital to abide by all relevant laws when dealing with firearms in South Carolina.
Illegal discharge of a firearm is a serious crime in South Carolina, defined by SC Code Section 16-23-440(A). This law makes it a felony to fire or cause the gun to be fired at or into any dwelling house, other building, structure, or enclosure that is regularly occupied by people. The same applies to any vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other conveyance that is occupied during the discharge of a firearm. Any illegal discharge can result in up to ten years in prison and/or fines of one thousand dollars. Being caught discharging a firearm illegally can lead to potential jail time and hefty financial penalties which may have lifelong ramifications.
The Circumstances for Illegal Firearm Possession
Illegal firearm possession is a serious offense and is punished in accordance with the law. Some of the most common situations in which possessing a firearm is illegal to include when the individual knew that the firearm was stolen, when it was used to commit a crime, or on the premises of any school or property controlled by a school.
Firearm possession without a proper carry permit or with any modified features such as altered or removed serial numbers is also illegal. Additionally, having a gun in an establishment that sells alcohol may result in arrest and criminal prosecution.
It can be difficult to determine when it is acceptable to carry firearms and when there could be legal consequences involved. For example, if an individual takes their legally-purchased firearm onto school property or an establishment serving alcohol even for protection purposes, this may constitute illegal firearm possession because these places have been declared 'gun-free zones'. It is important to look into local laws and regulations before possessing firearms anywhere other than your own private residence or land.
Having a Firearm on School Property
The laws in South Carolina regarding the possession of firearms on school property are very clear. Possessing a handgun on school property is classified as a felony and carries a fine of up to $5,000 and five years behind bars for conviction. This makes it illegal for any individual with or without a Concealed Weapon Permit to carry one onto school grounds.
There is an exception to this law in regard to firearms secured in a vehicle that is attended to or locked. The firearm must also be stored securely in either the glove compartment, trunk, console, or closed container fastened inside the vehicle's luggage compartment. In these cases, individuals may legally possess firearms on school property if their weapon meets the requirements outlined above.
Violating the Concealed Carry Law
Carrying concealed weapons in South Carolina can be a serious issue if not done properly. According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, it is illegal to carry any weapon with a length of more than twelve inches on your person or in your vehicle unless you have a valid concealed weapons permit (CWP). Any firearm considered concealable must be unloaded and stored in a secure case if transport is necessary before obtaining the permit. If you are traveling by car with a concealable weapon and do not have the necessary paperwork, it must be placed securely in a closed glove compartment, trunk, or similar compartment that latches shut.
In general, individuals looking to legally carry a handgun in South Carolina must take preemptive action and obtain a CWP from their local law enforcement agency. It’s important to remember that any violation of this rule could result in harsh possession charges depending on the severity of the offense. Individuals should always practice caution when handling firearms and remain aware of all state laws regarding their use to avoid violating their gun rights or breaking any state laws.
What to Do if You Are Facing a Weapons Charge
If you are facing a weapons charge in South Carolina, it is important to take immediate action and get legal representation. Weapons charges can range from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. Depending on the severity of the charge, you could be looking at hefty fines, jail time, or even a lengthy jail sentence. When it comes to gun charges, it is essential to understand the whole picture - your constitutional rights, the types of charges you're receiving, and the criminal penalties associated with them.
If you are facing a weapons charge in South Carolina, call Touma Law Group today for a free initial consultation. Our team of skilled Greenville defense lawyers will construct a strong legal defense on your behalf. We understand that each client’s case is different, and so our team takes a comprehensive, individualized approach to every one of them.