Possession of Sawed Off Shotgun, Rifle, Silencer, or Dangerous Weapon

Have you Been Charged with Possession of Certain Firearms, Dangerous Weapons, or Silencers in Georgia?

Crimes related to weapons or dangerous instruments are heavily regulated in Georgia. The laws were formed to protect the citizens of Georgia and convictions for weapon-related offenses are heavily punished. If you or a loved one has been charged with a weapons offense, call our Georgia Possession of Firearms or Dangerous Weapons Attorneys today. We have over 50 combined years of experience and always have someone waiting to answer your call. Find out why we are Georgia's top-rated criminal defense firm.

Georgia Law on Possession of Sawed-Off Shotguns, Silencers, or Other Dangerous Weapons

No person shall have in his possession any sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon, or silencer. O.C.G.A. §16-11-122

However, that statute does not apply to:

  1. A peace officer of any duly authorized police agency of this state or of any political subdivision thereof, or a law enforcement officer of any department or agency of the United States who is regularly employed and paid by the United States, this state, or any such political subdivision, or an employee of the Department of Corrections of this state who is authorized in writing by the commissioner of corrections to transfer or possess such firearms while in the official performance of his duties;
  2. A member of the National Guard or of the armed forces of the United States to wit: the army, navy, marine corps, air force, or coast guard who, while serving therein, possesses such firearm in the line of duty;
  3. Any sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon, or silencer which has been modified or changed to the extent that it is inoperative. Examples of the requisite modification include weapons with their barrel or barrels filled with lead, hand grenades filled with sand, or other nonexplosive materials;
  4. Possession of a sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon, or silencer by a person who is authorized to possess the same because he has registered the sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon, or silencer in accordance with the dictates of the National Firearms Act, 68A Stat. 725 (26 U.S.C. Sections 5481-5862); and
  5. A security officer employed by a federally licensed nuclear power facility or a licensee of such facility, including a contract security officer, who is trained and qualified under a security plan approved by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission or other federal agency authorized to regulate nuclear facility security; provided, however, that this exemption shall apply only while such security officer is acting in connection with his or her official duties on the premises of such nuclear power facility or on properties outside the facility property pursuant to a written agreement entered into with the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the facility. The exemption under this paragraph does not include the possession of silencers. (O.C.G.A. §16-11-124).

O.C.G.A. §16-11-123 further states that a person must knowingly have in their possession a sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon, or silencer for it to be a crime.

 What Constitutes a Dangerous Weapon?

A “dangerous weapon” means any weapon commonly known as a rocket launcher, “bazooka,” or recoilless rifle which fires explosive or nonexplosive rockets designed to injure or kill personnel or destroy heavy armor, or similar weapon used for such purpose. The term shall also mean a weapon commonly known as a “mortar” which fires high explosive from a metallic cylinder and which is commonly used by the armed forces as an antipersonnel weapon or similar weapon used for such purpose. The term shall also mean a weapon commonly known as a “hand grenade” or other similar weapon which is designed to explode and injure personnel or similar weapon used for such purpose. O.C.G.A. §16-11-121(1)

The Penalty for Possession of a Dangerous Weapon in Georgia

If convicted of possessing a certain type of firearm, dangerous weapon or silencer in Georgia, the accused will be charged with a felony. The punishment will be a five-year prison term. However, felony charges have consequences that extend beyond time in prison. A felony charge will remain on your record and can make it difficult to obtain housing, credit, or employment. 

Georgia Law on Possession of Machine Guns, Sawed-Off Rifles, Sawed-Off Shotguns or Firearms with a Silencer During Commission of Certain Offenses 

In addition to being prohibited from possessing one of the above listed weapons, O.C.G.A. § 16-11-160 makes it a separate offense to use of these weapons while committing or attempting to commit a crime. The offenses included are:

  • Aggravated assault
  • aggravated battery
  • Robbery
  • Armed robbery
  • Home invasion in any degree
  • Murder or felony murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Sale, possession for sale, transportation, manufacture, or offer to manufacture controlled substances
  • Terroristic threats
  • Arson
  • Influence witnesses
  • Participation in criminal gang activity 

Penalty for Possession of Weapons During Commission of Certain Crimes in Georgia

If convicted of possessing machine guns, sawed-off rifles, sawed-off shotguns, or firearms with a silencer during commission of one of the listen offenses, the accused will be guilty of a felony. The punishment will include a prison term of ten years that will run consecutively to any other sentence the accused has received. The accused will not be allow to have their sentence probated or suspended as well. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the punishment will be life in prison. 

Georgia Case Law

A man was convicted for possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Cox v. State. Officers executed a search warrant on Cox's property and found the gun in the nightstand next to the bed. Cox argued that the gun did not belong to him and stated that there was insufficient evidence tying the gun to him. However, the Court found that Cox had constructive possession of the shotgun since it was found in his nightstand. Therefore, he was guilty of possession of a sawed-off shotgun. 300 Ga. App. 100, (2009).

Georgia Defenses to Possession of a Dangerous Weapon, Sawed-Off Shotgun, or Silencer

I was unaware the firearm was in my possession: The statute requires that the defendant have the firearm “knowingly” in their possession. However, a lack of knowledge of the firearm can be difficult to prove. Therefore, it is best that you contact a Georgia Dangerous Weapon Lawyer today.

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Weapons related charges in Georgia are not to be taken lightly. We can assure you that we care about your case just as much as you do and we will do everything we can to fight the charges! Our firm is just as experienced with trying cases as we are negotiating out of court. We guarantee you will receive one of a kind representation when you partner with us. Call now and see how our Georgia Weapons Attorneys will make a difference in your case.


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