Carrying Weapons within a School Zone in Georgia
Crimes related to weapons or dangerous instruments are highly regulated in Georgia. The laws were formed to protect the citizens of Georgia, and convictions for weapon-related offenses are heavily punished. With such strict weapons laws, many honest Georgia citizens may unknowingly find themselves in violation of the law. Our Weapons Attorneys in Georgia understand that and are prepared to help you today.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a weapons offense, call our Georgia Carrying a Weapon in a School Zone Attorneys today. We have over 50 combined years of experience and have someone waiting to answer your call. Find out why we are Georgia's top-rated criminal defense firm.
Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1(b) reads as follows:
Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, it shall be unlawful for any person to carry to or to possess or have under such person's control while within a school safety zone, at a school function, or on a bus or other transportation furnished by a school any weapon or explosive compound, other than fireworks or consumer fireworks the possession of which is regulated by Chapter 10 of Title 25.
Under the statute, school includes any public or private elementary school, secondary school, and any public or private college, university, technical school, or other institution of postsecondary education. Therefore, it is still a crime to carry a weapon on a college campus.
What is Considered a Weapon?
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1, “weapon means and includes any pistol, revolver, or any weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind, or any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, any other knife having a blade of two or more inches, straight-edge razor, razor blade, spring stick, knuckles, whether made from metal, thermoplastic, wood, or other similar material, blackjack, any bat, club, or other bludgeon-type weapon, or any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain, or any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, or any weapon of like kind, and any stun gun or taser.”
A weapon does not include any of these instruments that are used for classroom work that has been authorized by the teacher.
Georgia Case Law
A college student at Georgia Southern University was convicted of possessing a firearm on school grounds when school police found a revolver in his laundry hamper in the closet. The student lived on the university campus and therefore was convicted under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1. Carter v. State, 319. Ga. App. 609, (2013).
Penalty for Carrying a Weapon in a School Zone in Georgia
If you are a licensed holder of a weapon and entered a school zone, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor. In Georgia, misdemeanors are punished by a fine up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
However, a person who is not a license holder and who enters a school zone will be guilty of a felony. The punishment will be a fine up to $10,000, a prison term between two and ten years, or both.
If the weapon was considered a dangerous weapon under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-121, then the punishment is a fine up to $10,000, a prison term between five and ten years, or both.
If a child violates this statute, they will be subject to the provisions in O.C.G.A. § 15-11-601.
Defenses to Carrying a Weapon in a School Zone in Georgia
The arrest and/or detention was unconstitutional: You have rights before, during, and after an arrest. If, at any time, your rights were violated, evidence that was obtained may not be allowed.
It was not a school zone: Even if you were carrying a weapon, evidence that you were not in a school zone would be greatly beneficial to your case.
It was not a weapon as classified under the statute: If the weapon was outside the scope of the law, then you may have been wrongfully charged.
It was an authorized weapon: Georgia law gives an exception where the school or teacher authorized the carrying of the weapon. Evidence of consent to bring the weapon in a school zone would be of immense help to your case.
Even if you are found guilty or a firearm of weapons crime in Georgia, our skilled attorneys can help obtain a reduced sentence for you. We will work to highlight mitigating factors that could convince the judge to give you a reduced sentence. Facts that could help include:
- Lack of knowledge you were breaking the law
- You were unaware that you were breaking the law
- You have good character and a clean record
- This was your first firearms offense
- You had no criminal intentions or committed the crime by mistake
Contact Us Now if Charged with a Weapons Crime in Georgia
Georgia's weapons and firearms laws are not only strict- they are very complex. For this reason, hiring a skilled and experienced defense attorney such as one from Lawson and Berry will make a significant difference in your case. If you have been charged with a weapons-related offense in Georgia, call our office today for a free no-obligation case evaluation.