Illegal weapons possession is a serious crime in Knoxville, TN as it is in most of our cities and towns. The laws regarding what constitutes an illegal weapon or “possession” can complicate the issue for many people. Because the penalties for a conviction of an illegal weapons possession charge can be severe and long-term, it is vital that someone facing a weapons possession charge contact an experienced illegal weapons possession attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney can often negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the charges and/or penalties.
At Hodges Doughty & Carson, we aggressively fight all illegal weapons possession charges. If you are facing a criminal charge, contact the criminal defense attorneys of Hodges Doughty & Carson at 865-292-2307 as soon as possible. The more time our attorneys have to investigate and work on your case, the better chance we will have of building a strong defense strategy that will give you the best possible outcome in your case.
The Constitution Guarantees Your Right to Bear Arms
Yes, the United States Constitution guarantees your right to own and possess firearms; however, federal and state governments have seriously restricted these rights and Tennessee is no exception. Tennessee weapon and firearm laws dictate what weapons and firearms citizens have the right to own and possess within the state. These laws also dictate how these firearms and weapons may be carried in public.
The Tennessee General Assembly has determined that some weapons and firearms are dangerous to the public and, therefore, individuals should not be permitted to own, possess, or carry these illegal weapons. Illegal weapons in Tennessee include, but are not limited to, brass knuckles, bombs, sawed-off shotguns, switchblades, and grenades. If a person is found in possession of an illegal weapon, he or she will be arrested and charged with an illegal weapons possession offense.
What Weapons Are Illegal Under Tennessee State Law?
Illegal weapons are defined under Tennessee Code Annotated §39-17-1302. The code states that a person commits a crime if he or she “intentionally or knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs or sells” any of the following items.
Explosives or explosive weapons
In addition to bombs, rockets, mines, and grenades, this subsection of the code also includes any breakable container that contains flammable liquids or sealed devices containing chemicals that are being used for the purpose of causing an explosion.
A device that is designed or adapted to shoot or deliver an explosive device
This device may be one designed for this purpose or a device that has been adapted by the person to use for this specific purpose.
Machine guns are defined in Tennessee as any firearm that is capable of firing more than two rounds by a single trigger function without needing to reload the firearm manually.
Short-barrel rifle or short-barrel shotgun
This is a rifle or shotgun that has a barrel length of less than 16 inches or an overall length less than 26 inches.
A device that is purchased, manufactured, or adapted to muffle the sound of a firearm.
Any device that appears to be an incendiary or explosive device used to cause alarm or a reaction by law enforcement or other public safety agencies.
Switchblade or knuckles
Knuckles are guards or finger rings constructed out of metal that causes seriously bodily harm or death when used to strike another person with your fist.
Any other implement that does not have a common lawful purpose other than to inflict serious bodily harm or death
A catchall clause that covers any other weapon that can be produced, designed, or constructed and used to inflict serious bodily harm or death.
Defenses and Exceptions to an Illegal Weapons Possession Charge
Several defenses are available to an individual charged with an illegal weapons possession offense. For example, it is a valid legal defense to an illegal weapons possession charge if the person in possession of the illegal weapon was performing his or her duties as a member or employee of the United States armed forces, the Tennessee National Guard, a governmental law enforcement agency, or a penal institution.
Explosives and explosive weapons are generally legal when used in a reasonable manner for commercial and industrial purposes. It may also be legal to use one of these weapons in a dramatic performance or for scientific research. In some cases, you may be able to argue successfully that the weapon was a keepsake and displayed as a curio or ornament; however, you must prove that the weapon was and is not operable.
Penalties for a Conviction of Illegal Weapons Possession
Charges of illegal weapons possession are charged as misdemeanors or felonies in Tennessee. If you are convicted of possessing, selling, transporting, repairing, or manufacturing an illegal weapon in Knoxville or anywhere in Tennessee, you face severe penalties based on the type of weapon in questions.
Class A Misdemeanor – Knuckles, switchblades, and other illegal weapons
For a conviction of a Class A Misdemeanor illegal weapons charge, you can be sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, probation, a fine up to $2,500, and court costs.
Class B Felony – Explosive weapons and explosives
For a conviction of a Class B Felony illegal weapons charge, you can be sentenced to 8 to 30 years in prison, probation, a fine up to $25,000, and court costs.
Class C Felony – Hoax device
For a conviction of a Class C Felony illegal weapons charge, you can be sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison, probation, a fine up to $10,000, and court costs.
Class E Felony – Firearm silencer, machine gun, short-barrel rifle, or short-barrel shotgun
For a conviction of a Class E Felony illegal weapons charge, you can be sentenced to 1 to 6 years in prison, probation, a fine up to $3,000, and court costs.
Contact an Experienced Knoxville Illegal Weapons Defense Attorney Immediately!
If you have been charged with an illegal weapons possession offense in Knoxville or the Tri-Cities area, it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect your legal rights. Many of our clients were just in the wrong place at the wrong time or they had no intent to commit a crime. Even though being charged with a crime is not the same as being guilty of a crime, you must take the matter seriously or you are risking your future and your freedom.
The Knoxville criminal defense lawyers of Hodges Doughty & Carson have extensive experience handling these types of cases and they are very knowledgeable regarding Tennessee illegal weapons possession laws. Contact our office today at 865-292-2307 for a confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights with an experienced Knoxville illegal weapons defense attorney. You are entitled to a fair and just trial in your criminal case.
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