Possession of a weapon can be a crime depending on the circumstances. In many states, certain weapons are considered to be illegal, and simply possessing them will lead to criminal charges. Or, certain persons may be prohibited from owning weapons.
On the other hand, the right to bear arms is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In general, owning a firearm is not a crime if the person has a valid permit and the weapon is not an illegal firearm.
Being convicted of possession of a weapon can lead to serious criminal charges – it may be classified as a felony in some jurisdictions. Felony charges are punishable by monetary fines and a possible prison sentence of more than one year.
When Is Possession of a Weapon Illegal?
Possession of a weapon becomes illegal if:
- The weapon is illegal
- The person is prohibited from possessing a weapon
- Possessing a weapon in a certain area is illegal
What Weapons Are Generally Considered Illegal to Possess?
The following weapons are usually classified as illegal weapons:
- Brass knuckles
- Billy clubs
- Cane swords
- Certain types of knifes (especially those with long blades)
- Guns equipped with large-capacity magazines
- Guns loaded with explosive ammunition or concealed in a camouflage container
- Any firearm that is not immediately recognizable as a gun
What Types of People Are Usually Not Allowed to Possess a Firearm?
The following persons are usually not allowed to acquire or possess a firearm:
- Persons with a previous felony conviction on their criminal record
- Fugitives fleeing from the law
- Persons who are dependent on drugs or medication
- Mentally incapacitated persons
- Persons prohibited from gun ownership according to a court order
Where Is It Illegal to Possess Weapons?
Possessing a weapon is not allowed in the following areas:
- No-weapons zones (such as on school grounds or within 1000 feet of a school)
- In a court house or other facility of justice
- Any other areas subject to a weapons ban
Again, the laws covering possession of a weapon can vary quite dramatically from region to region. For example, many inner cities enforce weapons or firearm bans throughout the entire city. In contrast, some cities have an open-carry policy that allows persons to carry guns in the city with a permit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Possession of a Weapon Charge?
If you are unsure of the weapons laws in your area, you may wish to inquire with a lawyer for clarification. You may also wish to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing criminal charges for possession of a weapon. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine whether you have any possible defenses available to you.