Due to horrific incidents in the past, such as the 9/11 attacks, airport security has gotten much stricter in the past two decades to keep travelers safe. Increased security has resulted in much more difficult experiences for travelers. While North Carolina is an open carry state with specific laws to follow, people have been stopped at the airport due to possessing a firearm. While you are able to bring a firearm with you on your flight, you must go through certain checks to ensure you’re doing so legally. Even if your intentions are clear, you may have made a mistake in the paperwork, or you may have stored it in the wrong bag.
Possessing a firearm at the airport in Charlotte, NC, can result in a vast range of penalties if done so incorrectly. Because security is the number one priority for staff, law enforcement won’t hesitate to stop you if they detect something unusual. Our team at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett understands how troublesome it can be to abide by all gun laws in North Carolina. We have more than twenty years of experience defending clients who were arrested for possession of a firearm, and we’re prepared to assist you as well.
Many individuals are unaware of the laws pertaining to carrying a firearm at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CTL), leading to some experiencing legal trouble. It’s imperative for travelers to know these regulations to avoid criminal charges.
First, a person must have a Pistol Purchase or Concealed Handgun Permit to carry a handgun in North Carolina. However, even if you have this documentation, all passengers are not permitted to bring any of the following items into the airport:
Of course, there are exceptions for certain people. Law enforcement agents, police, and conservators of the peace may carry weapons in the airport. Also, passengers are permitted to transport a lawful firearm through their checked-in luggage. You cannot carry these weapons on you, and they cannot be stored in your carry-on bag. Weapons that are stored in checked baggage must be unloaded, and any additional items must be stored according to specific criteria.
According to Charlotte’s Code of Ordinances Section 15-14, all dangerous weapons while on the city’s property, whether leased, owned, or under control, are prohibited. This property includes the CTL airport, and the term “dangerous weapons” can include more than just firearms.
Aside from firearms, this ordinance prevents anyone from possessing the following weapons at the airport:
You can be arrested for possessing a weapon at the airport, even if it isn’t a firearm. The idea is that any weapon that can cause physical harm or fatal injuries to others is banned from entering the airport. If you are found to be carrying any of the above weapons, you can face penalties from both your local legal system as well as the Transportation Security Administration.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for maintaining a safe environment across all airports in the United States. While lawful weapons can be transported in checked baggage, having a weapon on your body or in a carry-on bag is illegal. Items such as ammunition, unloaded pistols and flare guns, and pellets can be placed in luggage but cannot be taken with you on the plane. Also, certain airlines may prohibit these items in any situation, which is why you should check in with staff and ask questions.
The TSA will charge anyone for violating their regulations, even unknowingly. In some cases, an individual may have forgotten to place their firearm in their checked luggage and accidentally pass through security with it in their carry-on bag. The TSA will still charge the individual strict fines, however, as they won’t take any chances when it comes to flight security. While it may seem frustrating to have to remember these regulations, as well as accidentally violating one when not intending to, you’ll still be charged, no matter the situation.
You can be met with significant weapon charges if you are found possessing a firearm at the airport. You may experience state, federal, or both types of gun charges.
In North Carolina, a conviction of possessing a firearm at the airport will result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. You will be forced to pay a fine determined by a judge, alongside up to 120 days of jail time. If you receive a federal conviction, your fines can increase to up to $100,000, with one full year in prison. You may be able to avoid jail time if your judge agrees to place you on probation, but you will be subject to community service, house arrest, or more punishments.
If you are convicted at the state level, the government can still get involved and prosecute you at their level. In most cases, North Carolina’s judicial system will take control of the criminal system, whereas the government will use the TSA to issue a fine. Do not assume that if you are charged at the state level, you cannot be penalized at the federal level.
Most importantly, a criminal conviction can damage your daily life after your sentence is complete: you may struggle to find a job, access housing opportunities, or maintain a healthy social and family life.
The TSA can also get involved in your penalties for possessing a firearm at the airport. The steps involved in transporting firearms legally can be difficult to abide by, but these must be done to prevent penalties. Weapons must be transported in checked baggage, and loaded weapons are unable to be transported. Be sure to unload the ammunition from your weapon before placing it in luggage, and make sure all weapons go in luggage rather than on your body.
Whether you were found to be carrying a weapon at the airport, or you did not store a weapon properly before the flight took off, you can be charged with hefty fines and jail time. The TSA can fine you anywhere from $300 to $10,000 for bringing weapons through security, depending on the size and type of gun.
Even if you did not intend to enter the airport with a firearm, you can still be charged by the TSA. If your weapon is improperly stored, your fines can range anywhere from $650 to $1,300. This is why it’s crucial you understand the laws pertaining to carrying a gun at the airport, as you can be met with fines when not expecting them.
No matter if you’re struggling financially or not, these fines can significantly change how you make monetary and legal decisions in the future. While this organization can seem intimidating with its rules, these are in place to prevent major catastrophes such as 9/11 from occurring.
Regardless of why you’re traveling, you’ll be putting a large amount of funds into buying a plane ticket, finding lodging at your destination, and more. You shouldn’t have to deal with intense fines due to forgetting to unload your pistol before checking in your luggage. Some individuals feel they are falsely accused of violating the law but don’t think spending money on a lawyer is worth it. However, hiring a criminal defense lawyer is imperative if you’ve been charged with possessing a firearm at the airport.
Hiring a lawyer may seem expensive, but the truth is that an experienced lawyer who is well-versed in local gun laws can prevent your fines from exceeding an unmanageable amount. The TSA won’t hesitate to place severe fines on you for possessing an illegal weapon in the airport. No matter what your intention was, the consequences of carrying a gun at the airport can negatively impact your future. A lawyer can ensure your rights are protected while lessening or potentially eliminating your charges.
If you attempt to settle your issue in court without help, you may lack knowledge on how to defend yourself. You may miss out on key details that would have protected you against penalties. A misdemeanor can remain on your record for the rest of your life, and this conviction can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. This is why a lawyer is essential in helping you navigate this complicated situation.
The amount of money spent on a lawyer may be much less than the amount you’ll be charged in fines. To ensure the most desirable outcome in your case, consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer to assist you.
Just because you’re placed under arrest for this situation doesn’t mean you’re automatically convicted. In court, the prosecutors must be able to prove to the jury and judge that you were either possessing a firearm or had one improperly placed in checked luggage.
Our team of experienced lawyers will examine all aspects of your case and determine if there are any vulnerabilities in it. For example, a prosecutor must prove you are guilty of possession of a firearm beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor has faulty or illegal evidence, then a knowledgeable lawyer will know exactly how to respond and defend you. In rare cases, false evidence may be planted, such as someone placing ammo into your pistol in luggage, that results in you experiencing strict penalties. The prosecutor’s job is to prove you are guilty, but if there are any weaknesses in their case, we can step in and have your charges dropped.
While you can still be charged after forgetting you had a firearm in your carry-on bag, we may be able to prove your intention was not to cause harm. While challenging, we may be able to determine how to present this information to the judge, potentially lessening your punishments. We can also cross reference our evidence with the prosecutor’s, and we’ll be sure to speak up if we notice any discrepancies.
Having a lawyer by your side can make a significant difference in the final outcome. No one wants to deal with complex legal issues on top of having to pay large fines due to a simple mistake. Rather than risk your future, speak with a lawyer immediately.
Our team has met hundreds of clients who were charged with carrying a gun at the airport. Sometimes, it was a lapse in judgment where someone forgot to put the gun in the right luggage. Other times, people forgot to unload a weapon when attempting to have it checked in. While these regulations are necessary to keep everyone at the airport and on the plane safe, they can be incredibly tough to remember. This is where we come in.
The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett can not only defend you in court but can also educate you on how to navigate this complicated scenario. The legal system in the Charlotte area can be intimidating, but you don’t have to face it alone. We’re prepared to gather all of the information we need about what happened so we can carefully and clearly present your case. At any step of the process, we’ll provide advice on what should be done next so you’re not left out of the loop.
We take possession of firearms at the airport cases seriously, and we’re ready to help. To learn more about how we can help, or if you or a loved one have been charged with this crime, contact us immediately so we can begin creating a defense.