Is Jail Time Mandatory for a 1st Time Gun Charge in Wake County, NC?

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Both federal and state laws regulate the purchasing, selling, distribution, and possession of firearms. According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, there are approximately 814,000 residents who have concealed handgun permits in North Carolina. The majority of gun owners are diligent in following the state’s weapon laws, but some are not. North Carolina is 17th in the states with the highest rates of gun crimes. 

Gun charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony in Wake County. A weapons charge is usually a Class 2 misdemeanor if it is a first-time offense. However, if you possess a firearm as a felon, the charge will be a felony. Felony weapons charges involve the illegal possession, transportation, or distribution of firearms. Many of these charges deal with defendants who have prior records and are not legally allowed to possess any type of firearm. Depending on the severity of the charge, you may face penalties that include lengthy imprisonment. 

Many Wake County residents are responsible gun owners, yet still may face an unlawful possession charge because of not knowing the law. If you have been charged for the first time with a gun offense, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible. Given the tough penalties you may be facing, you need an experienced gun charge defense lawyer in Wake County. Contact Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh Attorneys at Law to fight for your rights.

Jail Time for a 1st Time Gun Charge in Wake County

Is jail time mandatory for a 1st time gun charge in Wake County? 

The answer is YES. 

Depending on the charge, you may be facing either a misdemeanor or a felony. Two of the most common types of gun offenses are the unlawful possession of a weapon or firearm and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon.

A first offense for illegal possession of a firearm is a Class G felony and carries a sentence of imprisonment from 8 to 47 months. This crime involves possessing a firearm in a place that is prohibited, or in circumstances that don’t allow having a firearm, such as with a restraining order.

Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon may receive time in jail even if it is your first offense. A first-time conviction for a concealed weapon charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The sentence range is between 1 and 60 days, which can include a jail sentence and a fine. If there are no prior convictions, the sentence may be up to 30 days and more than likely will be some form of community punishment.

Common Gun Charges and Penalties for Wake County, NC

These are the most common gun charges in Wake County with the penalties associated with the charges. Some gun charges are misdemeanors and some are felonies. Felonies carry longer, more severe jail times.

Carrying a Concealed Weapon without Proper Permit

Residents with a properly concealed weapon and a license to carry are within their legal rights. However, the act of carrying a concealed weapon without the proper permit is a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first-time offense. If convicted, this charge can result in 30 days to 6 months in jail. 

Possessing a Gun as a Felon 

North Carolina and Wake County law prohibits a convicted felon from purchasing, owning, or having possession of a firearm on his/her person. It is considered to be a second conviction under North Carolina’s sentencing guidelines because the underlying felony that resulted in the ban on possession of a firearm is the first offense. This infraction carries a Class G felony for which a sentence of a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 48 months can be given. 

Possessing a Firearm Unlawfully

The laws stipulate that carrying a firearm in these circumstances is illegal and each carries a specific gun charge:

  • The carrier of the firearm is underage (Class 1 misdemeanor)
  • The carrier is concealing a weapon without the proper permit (Class 2 misdemeanor)
  • The carrier is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a restraining order (Class H felony)
  • The carrier is prohibited due to domestic violence conviction (Class H felony)

Carrying a Gun in a Prohibited Place

There are certain places where Wake County prohibits carrying a firearm, either openly or concealed, even with a proper permit. Some are Class 1 misdemeanors (for example, places where alcoholic beverages are sold) and some are Class 1 felonies (for example, a school zone).

  • Educational facilities
  • Law enforcement or correctional facility
  • State or federal building or office
  • Any place where the carrying of a concealed firearm is prohibited under federal law
  • Any picket line or demonstration at a public place or private healthcare facility
  • Any parade or funeral procession
  • Any place where a fee has been charged for admission or any establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed
  • The TSA has special rules for transporting firearms if charged with possession of a gun or weapon at RDU

There are places where openly carrying a firearm is allowed. Read our Guide to North Carolina Open Carry Laws for more information.

Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm

Unlawfully discharging a firearm can land you with a Class E or Class F felony conviction. If you intentionally fire or even attempt to fire a gun within an occupied building, enclosure, or vehicle to create fear, you will be charged with a Class F felony which carries 10 to 41 months in prison. A Class E felony carries a maximum prison time of 88 months in prison. If you willfully discharge or attempt to discharge a firearm in the following circumstances, you will be charged with a Class E felony:

  • As part of a criminal game activity
  • Within city limits
  • Within a building, structure, or vehicle
  • Toward another person
  • Toward another group outside of an enclosure

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the most serious gun-related criminal charges. These elements are involved in this charge: 1) The defendant assaults another person with a deadly weapon, 2) The defendant assaults another person with the intent to kill. If the defendant causes serious injury, the charge is a Class C felony and carries a maximum prison sentence of 231 months. Prison sentences for Class C felonies range from 44 to 182 months. If the defendant doesn’t inflict serious injury on the victim, the charge may be a Class E felony. A Class E felony carries jail time from 38 to 160 months.

Contact Our Experienced Wake County Gun Charge Defense Attorneys to Minimize Your Charges

With over 50 years of combined experience, Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh are seasoned gun charge attorneys in Wake County, NC who will fight for your rights when facing a gun charge. Our knowledgeable defense lawyers will help you prepare your case to protect your rights. We will walk you through the process and provide the expert legal representation you need. Call or contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a free consultation at (919) 845-6688 or complete the contact form below to speak with one of our attorneys today.