South Carolina is a relatively friendly state when it comes to the Second Amendment. Other than safety and self-defense, some citizens own firearms for sporting activities like hunting. However, certain circumstances could constitute unlawful possession or carrying of a weapon in South Carolina.
Unlawful carrying of a weapon is classified as a criminal charge, though mainly as a misdemeanor. It could result in a felony depending on the circumstances.
Various laws have been enacted in the recent past by the state legislature to expand the possession of firearms, with the latest being the Open Carrying with Training Act of 2021.
Even if you have a concealed weapon permit (CWP), you still run the risk of being charged for unlawful carrying of a weapon in some situations. If charged, you will need a dedicated criminal defense attorney to help you avoid conviction or a long jail term.
This article discusses what unlawful carrying of a weapon is in South Carolina, its penalties, and how to get defense against this charge.
What Amounts to Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon in South Carolina?
Carrying a firearm in public or inside your vehicle can be termed unlawful if it does not adhere to various specifications made by the statutes on carrying of a firearm.
Unlawful possession of a firearm is considered a misdemeanor crime by all standards and it can result in one year in jail. If you hide your handgun under the seat or in a bag, rather than seal it properly, you could be considered unlawfully carrying a firearm.
South Carolina laws require that an individual obtains a concealable weapons permit (CWP) before carrying a handgun in public. The application for CWP is elaborated on and overseen by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Here are the requirements that must be met during the application and the duration the permit lasts.
Firearm Safety Training
Applicants must submit proof of firearm safety training during their application for a concealable weapons permit. The proof of training is a document that shows the applicant’s proficiency in the use of firearms and proficiency in state laws regarding firearms.
Firearm safety courses are offered by law enforcement agencies and for you to qualify for a CWP, you need to have had firearm safety training in the past three years.
Validity of the Permit
The CWP is valid for five years with an option for renewal by the holder. SLED will renew your CWP upon your submission of a renewal application, picture identification, and submission of a renewal fee.
Upon submission of your renewal application, the SLED will conduct a thorough local, state, and federal background check and renew your CWP permit if your background is clean.
SLED honors valid out-of-state gun holders who have permits from their reciprocal states to carry a concealable firearm so long as their states require permit applicants to pass a criminal background check and a firearm safety training course.
SLED has an updated list of states with which the state of South Carolina has reciprocity on the carrying of weapons. A law passed in 2016 allows SLED to automatically recognize concealed weapon permit holders from the states of Georgia and North Carolina.
As mentioned, it is illegal to knowingly lease, sell, deliver, rent, barter, exchange, transport for sale or offer a handgun or any other firearm to a person that has been prohibited.
Below is a list of individuals who are prohibited from owning and carrying firearms by South Carolina state laws:
- Fugitive from justice
- A person convicted of a violent crime
- A person declared mentally incompetent
- A person with a history of drug or alcohol addiction
- Individuals below the age of 18 years, although they can handle a gun under the instructions of a trained and permitted adult firearm holder
- A member of a subversive organization
What Are the Charges and Penalties for Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon in SC?
If convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon, a defendant might face up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $2000, or both. To be convicted of this misdemeanor crime, the South Carolina State Prosecutor must prove beyond any reasonable doubt the elements of the crime. The following are the elements the State prosecutor is required to prove:
- The defendant carried a weapon unlawfully in South Carolina within the court’s jurisdiction.
- The firearm was on the defendant at the time of the arrest.
- If it was in the car, it was not sealed in a closed compartment.
A defendant, through their criminal defense attorneys, can dispute the elements of the charge. For instance, the defendant can show that they were carrying the firearm in an area permitted by SC laws on concealed carrying of weapons.
However, upon the conviction of a defendant, the handgun is confiscated by law enforcement but it cannot be disposed of until the case has been fully resolved. To avoid such repercussions, you need a local criminal defense attorney to represent you.
What Are the Implications of South Carolina’s Open Carrying With Training Law?
The state legislature of South Carolina passed the Open Carrying with Training bill in 2021 and Governor McMaster signed the bill into law in May 2021. This particular act took effect on August 11, 2021, and allows persons that have a CWP to carry firearms openly in public.
The new law also allows private businesses to limit permit holders from carrying openly on their premises. This is indicated through posting signs. Additionally, the Open Carrying with Training Act of 2021 allows for temporary suspension of legal open carry during a protest, or in any other organized events.
Get An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The chances of running into trouble with law enforcement officials are high if you aren’t a responsible gun holder in South Carolina. If you have been charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon, you need to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you by building a solid defense strategy.
David Aylor Law Offices have a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys who can help you with legal advice and representation in case you break any of the laws regarding weapons in the State of South Carolina. Contact David Aylor Law Offices today to schedule a consultation on your options.
FAQs About South Carolina Weapons Charges
Is unlawful carrying of a weapon in South Carolina a felony or misdemeanor?
Usually, this is a misdemeanor crime whose elements must be proven beyond any reasonable doubts by the state prosecutor during trial.
What are the penalties for unlawfully carrying a weapon in South Carolina?
If convicted of unlawfully carrying a weapon in South Carolina you could be jailed for a year, fined up to $2000 or both.