The Second Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for American citizens. While the federal government may not infringe upon this right, the States have the right to pass legislation restricting firearms sales, carrying, and use in certain ways. Tennessee has some of the most permissive gun laws in the entire country, and state lawmakers recently legalized open and concealed carry for all Tennessee residents legally allowed to own firearms over the age of 21. Some additional restrictions still apply, such as the need to apply for a Concealed Carry Permit should an individual wish to concealed carry in a state that recognizes reciprocity with Tennessee, but this new law broadly expands firearms carrying rights for Tennessee residents.
Unfortunately, some Nashville, TN residents are still charged with illegal firearm possession and other gun crimes each year. Some people make mistakes and violate firearms laws unknowingly or intentionally and others use firearms while committing other crimes. Attorney Patrick McNally can provide the comprehensive and aggressive defense representation you need if you have been charged with violating Tennessee gun laws. Whether your offense pertains to a handgun, rifle, shotgun, or illegal firearms such as fully automatic machine guns and modified weapons, our team has the resources and experience necessary to guide you through your legal proceedings with confidence.
It’s common for those charged with weapons offenses in Tennessee to wonder whether they need to hire legal representation. If you believe your arrest resulted from a misunderstanding or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may think you can simply explain your situation to the police and put the issue to rest. However, the police tend to seek any ways they can find to boost their conviction rates. Some go as far as entrapping citizens or violating their Constitutional rights and the laws of due process. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to ensure you do not experience these issues and, if you do experience them, your legal team will ensure that those responsible are held to account.
You may also wonder why you should hire a private defense attorney when you can have a public defender represent you for free. The criminal court appoints public defenders to represent those who cannot afford private defense attorneys or do not wish to pay private attorneys’ fees. While the majority of Tennessee public defenders are hardworking, experienced defense attorneys who do their best for their clients, they have extremely demanding schedules that generally require them to juggle multiple cases at a time. Simply put, even the best public defender cannot provide the same level of individual attention your case will receive from the Nashville gun crimes lawyers at McNally Law.
Since Tennessee upholds relatively relaxed gun laws, the three main ways Nashville area residents face firearm charges include illegal possession based on location or previous criminal offenses, using a weapon while committing another crime, or possession of an illegal firearm. “Illegal firearms” include fully automatic “machine guns,” some short-barrel rifles, and sawn-off shotguns. While Tennessee gun owners have the right to modify their weapons according to state law, they cannot perform any illegal modifications such as shortening the barrel of a shotgun.
When it comes to illegal possession of firearms, Tennessee allows open carry or concealed carry for Tennessee residents over the age of 21 and for police officers and active-duty members of the military between the ages of 18 and 20. It is, however, illegal to carry firearms in certain places. For example, it is illegal to carry a firearm on any school property in Tennessee. This includes school buildings, administrative buildings, athletic fields, recreation areas, and any other school property. If an individual carries a firearm into any school location with an intent to go armed, they face a Class E felony charge punishable by one year up to six years in prison and fines up to $3,000. If they did not intend to go armed and unintentionally carried a firearm into an unauthorized area, they face a Class B misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500 and up to six months in jail.
As far as possession of illegal weapons such as machine guns and sawn-off shotguns, the penalty for this offense depends on whether the prosecution seeks a misdemeanor or felony charge. At the misdemeanor level, possession of an illegal firearm carries a penalty of up to $2,500 in fines and up to one year in prison. When charged as a felony this offense is a Class E felony punishable by one to six years in prison and fines up to $3,000.
The most severe penalties for weapons offenses in Tennessee pertain to cases in which a defendant used a firearm while committing another crime. The use or display of a deadly weapon will significantly increase the penalties for criminal offenses such as assault. For example, simple assault is usually a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. If the offender used or displayed a firearm while committing assault, they will face felony charges with different penalties depending on whether they acted intentionally or recklessly. Intentional aggravated assault carries a Class C felony penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and reckless aggravated assault carries a Class D felony penalty of up to 12 years in prison.
If you are arrested on any type of firearm-related offense in Nashville, TN, it is easy to feel as though the entire system is working against you and you have no hope of avoiding serious penalties. The right defense attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your criminal case, so it is crucial to obtain defense counsel as soon as possible after your arrest. If you are unsure of your legal options after an arrest for a weapons offense in Nashville, the team at McNally Law is ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a dependable Nashville gun crimes lawyer who can help you approach your case with confidence.