Connecticut’s firearms laws are strict. Lawmakers intend to strictly regulate the use of firearms and protect other people from harm. Prosecutors are serious when they bring charges for firearms violations. Nonetheless, there are several different ways that innocent Connecticut residents can find themselves facing criminal firearms charges.
Sometimes, a defendant can face firearms charges for acts he or she engaged in unintentionally. For example, someone might have failed to lock a gun case safely. Or perhaps someone put off renewing a concealed weapon permit in time and his or her license expired. Whatever the reason for your firearm violation, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Below are a few of the common firearm violation charges:
Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
Unlawful discharge of a firearm happens when the defendant intentionally, negligently, or carelessly discharges any firearm in such a manner as to be likely to cause bodily injury or death to persons or domestic animals, or the wanton destruction of property. You do not need to intentionally discharge your firearm to be convicted under this crime. The prosecutor needs only to prove that you negligently discharged your firearm. In Connecticut, this crime carries a potential jail sentence of up to three years in prison and fines of $250.
Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon
In Connecticut, it is illegal to carry certain types of weapons, including the following:
- BB guns
- Metal knuckles
- Knife with a blade greater than 4 inches
- Police baton
- Martial arts weapon
- Electronic defense weapon
Suspects who have been caught carrying any of these dangerous weapons face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $500. Convicted defendants will also have a felony conviction on their criminal record.
Possession of a Stolen Firearm
Stealing another person’s firearm is also illegal in Connecticut. A defendant is guilty of stealing a firearm when a person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds a firearm. Prosecutors will need to prove that the defendant intends to deprive someone else of their firearm or to steal the firearm and give it or sell it to a third party. Stealing a firearm in Connecticut is a class C felony. Those convicted will face a sentence of two years. The defendant will also face five thousand dollars or less fine in addition to having a permanent record as a felon.
Owning a Gun or Pistol Without a Permit
Under Connecticut law, everyone who carries a handgun needs to have a gun permit. You must carry the permit on your person whenever you are carrying your handgun. You do not need a permit to possess a gun in your own home as long as your gun stays in your home. If law enforcement discovers that someone is carrying a handgun without the proper permit, they can be punished by up to a $35 fine. If the person carrying the gun does not have a permit at all, he or she can face imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $1,000. The person will face a minimum one-year mandatory prison sentence when no mitigating factors are present.
Selling a Firearm Without a License
Under federal law, anyone who sells firearms needs to have a federal firearm license. Under Connecticut state law, those who sell handguns must also have a dealer’s permit issued by Connecticut police chiefs. Even if you are a casual seller, you will need a permit if you have sold 10 or more handguns within the calendar year.
Carrying a Dangerous Weapon
Many people assume that firearms are the most highly regulated weapons. However, weapons other than guns are just as highly restricted. Connecticut law prohibits people from carrying certain types of dangerous weapons on their person, including the following types of weapons:
- Long knives
- Brass knuckles
- Dirk knife
- Any knife with an automatic spring blade that is released from the handle
- Any knife having a blade of over one and a half inches in length
- Any knife with an edged portion that is four inches or more in length
- A police baton or nightstick
- Any martial arts weapon
- Any electronic defense weapon
- Any other dangerous weapon or instrument
People are also prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons in their motor vehicles. This crime is a class E felony in Connecticut. There are several exceptions to this law. Members of the armed forces, police officers, and security guards are allowed to carry certain types of knives. There are several other exceptions to this rule. An experienced defense attorney will review your case and determine whether you can raise any of these exceptions as a defense to your charges.
Felony in Possession of a Firearm
Federal law prohibits certain groups of people from possessing or purchasing firearms. Felons, certain people with a history of mental illness, and certain domestic abusers are prohibited from possession of a firearm. Under Connecticut law, the following people cannot possess a firearm in almost all cases:
- Defendants convicted of a felony, with very limited exceptions, or those who have committed certain intimidating or violent misdemeanors after 2013.
- Those convicted of the commission of a serious juvenile offense
- Those discharged from custody within the last 20 years after having been found not guilty of a crime due to a mental defect or disease
- Those who have been confined in a mental hospital for those with psychiatric disabilities within the last year through the order of a probate court
- Someone subject to a firearms seizure order, or a restraining or protective order of any state court
The penalty for violating the prohibitions above will face class C felony charges along with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years and a fine up to $5,000.
Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with a firearms charge in Connecticut, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf. Contact the Red Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers today.