Under Missouri law, weapons charges appear in Chapter 571 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Specifically, unlawful use of weapons is found in Section 571.030. There, the law states that a person is guilty of the crime of unlawful use of a weapon if her or she knowingly does one of a lengthy list of things.
These can include:
- carrying a concealed weapon, such as a gun or knife
- shooting a gun into a any structure used for assembling people;
- displaying a deadly weapon in a threatening manner
- possessing a potentially lethal weapon while intoxicated and handling it in a negligent manner
- shooting a firearm within 100 yards of any occupied school, court or church;
- shooting a firearm across or along a public highway;
- carrying a firearm or other deadly weapon into a church where people have gathered to worship, into a precinct on election day or into any government building;
- shooting a firearm at any person or other structure while in a moving vehicle; and finally,
- taking a firearm, whether loaded or not, into a school or other school facility.
There are some exceptions to the law, and the exceptions apply mainly to the groups you might expect. For instance, police officers, members of the military, prison officials, probation and parole officers and various other individuals acting in an official capacity are exempt from the regulations contained in Section 571.030.
There are other exceptions to various subsections of the unlawful use of weapons law. For example, if guns are unloaded and ammunition is not accessible, then engaging in several of the above acts, such as carrying a firearm while intoxicated, would not result in criminal charges. Other exceptions exist if a person is merely transporting the weapon in a non-functioning state. Perhaps most obviously, if a person has a permit to carry a concealed firearm issued by Missouri or any other state, then no charges will result for many of the above-mentioned acts.
Unlawful use of weapons is a Class D felony in most cases, though exceptions abound. The Class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon has a range of punishment of between one day to one year in jail or up to 4 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
One exception applies to those who shoot a firearm within 100 yards of any occupied school, court or church; shoot a firearm across or along a public highway; or carry a firearm or other deadly weapon into a church where people have gathered to worship, into a precinct on election day or into any government building. In each of these instances the crime will be considered a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are punished with jail terms of up to six months and a fine of up to $500.
Another exception applies to those found in possession of a potentially lethal weapon while intoxicated or those who take a firearm into a school facility. In such cases, if the firearm is unloaded the charge will result in a Class A misdemeanor, however, if the weapon is loaded then the crime will be deemed a Class D felony. Class A misdemeanors are punished with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Weapons charges are serious crimes and if you or someone you know is faced with such charge, you should seek the advice of an experienced St. Louis criminal defense attorney right away. Loss of freedom and a permanent criminal record are a few of the multitude of penalties that can result from a weapons charge in Missouri. Given the dangerous nature of the crime, prosecutors are notoriously aggressive in attempting to secure a conviction. With so much on the line, it’s crucial that you seek out an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney who will vigorously work to secure your freedom.