Having an encounter with the criminal justice system can be a stressful and terrifying experience. If you are facing criminal charges for allegedly engaging in illegal activities, you probably want to know what the worst-case scenario could be for you if the prosecutor manages to convict you. That’s why it’s good to understand the effect that the possession of a firearm can have upon your criminal charges.
Unlawful carrying of a handgun
The South Carolina Legislature has created a separate criminal offense for illegal possession of a handgun. This means that, unless you fit under one of the specific exemptions listed in the statute, you could face an additional criminal charge merely for having a handgun on your person, even if you did not brandish it or fire it at any time.
For example, the statute permits you to have a handgun in your house or vehicle under certain conditions. But if you are in a public place at the time of your arrest, and you have a handgun on you, the prosecutor could decide to charge you with the offense of unlawful carrying of a handgun, in addition to any other criminal charges they may bring against you.
Additional criminal charges for use of a weapon
Under South Carolina law, many crimes have a more severe penalty if a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime.
For example, if the prosecution successfully convicts someone of assault and battery, and that person used a gun in the commission of the assault and battery, then the judge must add up to twelve months to the prison sentence for the assault and battery, or must add at least two hundred dollars to the associated fine, or both.
The ability to possess a firearm is an important part of our rights as Americans. However, it’s important to understand how the presence of a firearm can complicate matters when it comes to preparing a defense against criminal charges.