Improperly Handling Firearms in Ohio
Ohio law regarding guns in vehicles is complex. There are many requirements for how a firearm can and cannot be transported in an automobile. If the driver is the holder of a concealed handgun license, there is another layer of obligations. Violating one of the requirements can lead to a charge of Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle. There are many different ways a person can be charged with this offense, and the possible penalties vary, depending on the precise charge. If you were charged with Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle in Columbus or the Central Ohio area, the lawyers at the Dominy Law Firm can help.Different Types of Charges for Improperly Handling Firearms
There is one Ohio statute which prohibits improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle. However, that statute can be violated in many ways because the statute has many prohibitions. Below is a summary of the different types of charges and the corresponding penalties.
Discharging Firearm. Ohio law prohibits discharging a firearm while in a motor vehicle. Violating this law is a fourth-degree felony. The possible sentence includes a prison term up to 18 months, a fine up to $5,000, and community control (probation) for up to five years.
Transporting Firearm Unlawfully. The statute prohibits transporting a firearm in a motor vehicle unless the firearm is transported in one of four ways:
- in a closed package, box or case;
- in a compartment that can reached only by leaving the vehicle;
- in plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for that purpose;
- if the firearm is at least twenty-four inches in overall length and if the barrel is at least eighteen inches in length, either in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped, or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight
Violating this part of the statute is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The possible penalties include a jail term up to 30 days, a fine up to $250, and probation for up to five years.
Under the Influence or Over the Limit. The statute makes it illegal to transport or possess a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle if the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It is also illegal if the person is ‘over the limit’ for alcohol and/or a drug of abuse. This section applies to both drivers and passengers. A violation of this law is a fifth degree felony carrying up to 12 months in prison, a fine up to $2,500, and community control (probation) for up to five years. A driver charged with this offense will also likely be charged with DUI / OVI.
Concealed Handgun License Holder. If a person with a concealed handgun license is in a vehicle which is stopped by a law enforcement officer, it is illegal for that person to do any of the following:
- Fail to promptly inform the law enforcement officer(s) the person has been issued a concealed handgun license and there is a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle
- Fail to promptly inform the employee of the unit who approaches the vehicle while stopped that the person has been issued a concealed handgun license and there is a loaded handgun in the commercial motor vehicle
- Knowingly fail to remain in the motor vehicle while stopped or knowingly fail to keep the person's hands in plain sight at any time after any law enforcement officer begins approaching the person while stopped and before the law enforcement officer leaves, unless in accordance with directions given by a law enforcement officer
- Knowingly have contact with the loaded handgun by touching it with the person's hands or fingers in the motor vehicle at any time after the law enforcement officer begins approaching and before the law enforcement officer leaves, unless in accordance with directions given by the law enforcement officer
- Knowingly disregard or fail to comply with any lawful order of any law enforcement officer given while the motor vehicle is stopped, including, but not limited to, a specific order to the person to keep the person's hands in plain sight
Violating this part of the statute has various consequences because each different prohibition is different. In addition, there are exceptions to the penalties. It is important to read the statute very closely to understand which charge is being alleged and what are the potential consequences for that charge.Defenses for These Types of Charges
In addition to the traditional offenses available in any criminal case, the charge of Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle has other defenses unique to firearms. Some defenses are built into the statute. Other defenses are the ‘affirmative defenses’ available to charges of Carrying a Concealed Weapon.Representation for Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle
The Dominy Law Firm practices criminal defense, with a focus on representing clients charged with vehicular offenses. That includes Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle. We understand the various charges, the defenses, and how to litigate these cases in court. If you are charged with this offense in Columbus or the central Ohio area, you can arrange a free phone consultation by completing a CONTACT FORM or by calling our office at 614-717-1177.