Getting caught with a weapon while in the wrong place at the wrong time can cause an unexpected trip to criminal court, especially in Tennessee. For a state with a reputation for being gun-friendly, it takes illegal weapons possession very seriously.
This guide outlines the main differences between misdemeanor and felony weapons possession crime classifications in Tennessee. It also provides potential defenses, should you be accused of this crime.
Overview of Weapons Possession Laws in Tennessee
- It is illegal to possess a firearm if you have been convicted of a felony
- Those convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses such as domestic assault and DUIs are also prohibited from owning firearms.
- Private sales of firearms are allowed but still require background checks.
- Citizens cannot carry guns in schools, public parks, or government buildings.
Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Weapon Possession
A misdemeanor weapon possession typically involves a weapon that has been illegally modified. This charge carries with it a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Felony weapon possession usually involves someone who has lost their gun rights, such as convicted felons or people found guilty of domestic violence. This charge can carry with it a prison sentence of up to 30 years and fines up to $50,000.
Examples of Illegal Weapon Possession in Tennessee
Specific weapons that are prohibited in Tennessee include:
- Hoax devices
- Firearm silencers
- Switchblade knives
- Short-barrel rifles or shotguns
- Knives with blades exceeding 4 inches
Defenses Against Misdemeanor and Felony Weapons Charges
Here are some possible defenses against illegal weapon possession charges in Tennessee.
Unloaded weapon: If you were carrying an unloaded rifle, shotgun, or handgun that was not concealed, you may be able to use this as a defense.
Lack of knowledge: This defense claims that you were not aware that the weapon was in your possession or control.
Unlawful search: It may be possible to challenge the legality of the search that led to the discovery of the weapon. Whenever police break procedure or violate your rights, you may be able to have your case thrown out, regardless of whether you committed the crime.
Self-defense: You may be able to argue that you have been routinely threatened or harassed, and you were in constant fear for your life. If you were carrying the weapon in self-defense, you may have a valid defense.
Invalid warrant: If the arrest warrant or search warrant was invalid, or the police misused the warrant, it is possible to challenge the charges. For instance, search warrants may limit a search to just one room or floor. If police go outside these boundaries, whatever they find may be inadmissible in court.
Entrapment: If you were induced or coerced by law enforcement to possess the weapon, this may be a valid defense.
Constitutional rights violations: If your constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or search process, your case could be thrown out.
Patton & Pittman Attorneys can help defend you against illegal weapons charges. For a free consultation, contact our team online or call our office at (931) 361-4477.