Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Gun Charges in North Carolina

In the U.S. the Constitution and amendments give citizens the right to bear arms. Despite this right, there are many federal and state laws that control gun ownership. If you don’t abide by these laws, you can face charges that carry serious penalties. Gun charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies. Specific circumstances surrounding the situation make the difference between the two. 

Being charged with a gun crime is extremely serious and can carry extreme penalties. It is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a defense attorney to protect your rights. Raleigh criminal defense lawyers at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh are experienced in providing legal guidance on various types of gun charges in North Carolina. In this article, we explain the situations that define whether a gun charge is a misdemeanor or felony. 

Misdemeanor Gun Charges in North Carolina

Most gun violations are classified as felonies in North Carolina; however, some are considered to be misdemeanors. While there are North Carolina open carry laws, it’s important to be aware of the legal circumstances for when and where you are not legally permitted to carry a firearm. 

Carrying a Concealed Gun without a Permit

It is illegal to carry a concealed gun in NC unless these circumstances exist:

  • You are on your own property
  • You are a law enforcement officer or an on-duty military service person
  • You are following the NC requirements for carrying concealed handguns, including having a valid concealed carry permit with you

Carrying a Gun Where Alcoholic Beverages are Sold or Consumed

It is considered to be a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a gun in a place where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Gun Charges

The charges for violating the permit requirement can vary from an infraction to a Class 2 misdemeanor. An infraction holds a $100 maximum fine and would apply to a situation where you have a valid permit but not on your person or you don’t show it to a police officer. A Class 2 misdemeanor applies when you are carrying a concealed handgun without a permit when it is your first offense. However, if you are charged a second time, it is then a Class 1 felony.

Felony Gun Charges

Felony gun charges constitute a significant area within the realm of criminal law, carrying serious legal implications and potential consequences.

A Felon in Possession of a Gun

A convicted felon is not allowed to own or possess a firearm. A prior felony conviction, regardless of the length of time since the conviction, means the person cannot purchase, own, or have possession of a gun. If law enforcement discovers a federal felon in possession of a firearm, this charge is a Class G felony.

Possession of a Gun in a Prohibited Place

Regardless of having a gun permit, it is illegal to carry a gun in a school zone. It is illegal to have a gun on school property whether it is concealed or out in the open. Schools include elementary through college level and include extracurricular activities. This is a felony charge.

Possession of a Gun by a Person with a Domestic Violence Order

You are not allowed to own, possess, or purchase a gun while there is a domestic violence order in effect. Additionally, you may not possess or purchase ammunition. A violation of this law is a Class H felony.

Unlawfully Discharging a Firearm

Depending on the circumstances, you can be convicted of a Class D, E, or F felony conviction for unlawfully discharging a firearm:

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

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

An assault with a deadly weapon is when a person assaults another person with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill. This is one of the most serious gun-related criminal charges in NC. It can be classified as a Class C or Class D felony and carries potential time in jail ranging from 38 to 231 months. 

Penalties for Gun Charge Convictions

Your gun charge attorneys in Raleigh provide legal guidance in defending your rights when charged with a gun offense. Generally, misdemeanor charges apply when the gun was not used. In most situations where the firearm was discharged, you most likely will face felony charges. Punishment for gun charges can include jail time, a probationary period, and community service. 

A misdemeanor conviction can be these classes and penalties:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor – a sentence of 1 to 120 days in jail
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor – a sentence of 1 to 60 days in jail
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor – a sentence of 1 to 20 days in jail

A felony gun charge conviction is more complicated due to circumstances that may have been present. The judge has some discretion for penalties because there are many mitigating factors as well as aggravating factors that are reviewed when arriving at penalties.

  • Class D Felony – a sentence of 51 to 128 months
  • Class E Felony – a sentence of 20 to 50 months
  • Class F Felony – a sentence of 13 to 33 months
  • Class G Felony – a sentence of 10 to 25 months
  • Class H Felony – a sentence of 5 to 20 months
  • Class I Felony – a sentence of 4 to 20 months

Contact Our Criminal Lawyers for Gun Charges in NC

If you are on the path of overcoming an unlawful firearm possession charge in North Carolina, it’s essential to find legal representation from qualified gun offense attorneys you can trust. 

Our team of gun charge defense attorneys knows how to determine the circumstances surrounding the crime and work within the system to give you the best defense possible. For a free consultation in Raleigh, contact Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh Attorneys at Law 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (919) 845-6688, or complete the easy-to-use contact form to speak to one of our attorneys today.