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Friday, July 28, 2017

Do You Conceal Carry? Are You a Frequent Flyer?

Have you accidentally carried a firearm through an airport security checkpoint?

 

Picture this – you are running late for your flight, you grab your bag, race to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, run to the security checkpoint, stand in line, you take off your shoes, take off your belt, and throw everything onto the scanner, you walk through the metal detector, you watch your bag go through the scanner and all of a sudden multiple Department of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) agents are huddled around the scanner screen pointing at something in your bag. Uh-oh, panic sets in as you quickly realize what the problem is, in the chaos of trying to make it to the airport, you forgot to take your firearm out of your bag. TSA agents pull you to the side and shortly thereafter you are face to face with law enforcement and your firearm is seized by the FBI. What happens now?

 

Well, if you are carrying a firearm on a regular basis, hopefully you have your concealed carry permit on you otherwise, you may be getting ready to take a trip to Clayton County jail. If you have a concealed carry permit and you are compliant with TSA and law enforcement officials, you may spare yourself an evening behind bars. In that case, you may even by lucky enough to still make your flight, but now you are staring at a yellow slip of paper with “United States District Court Violation Notice” printed at the top in big, bold letters. Whether you spent the night in jail or were released on a citation, a few weeks will go by and then you will receive a letter in the mail containing a Notice to Appear in the United States District Court as the Defendant in a case being brought against you by the United States of America. At this point, you are terrified, and rightfully so.  

 

When you appear for your court date, you may be charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or a petty offense. If you are charged with a petty offense, you may only be required to appear for a hearing and pay a small fine in exchange for the release of your firearm. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you could be facing additional jail time, community service, or a fine. In determining how you will be charged, the prosecutor will look at a multitude of factors, such as: the type of firearm you were carrying, whether the firearm you were carrying was registered, whether you have a permit to carry a firearm, your past criminal history, the facts and circumstances surrounding your encounter with TSA and law enforcement officials, etc. However, depending on the circumstances, your charges could rise to the level of a felony or misdemeanor.

 

Unfortunately, your case doesn’t end with the charges against you in federal district court. At some point in the process, you will receive Notice of Violation from the TSA in the mail assessing a civil penalty against you in the amount of $3,000. While the letter lays out multiple options, such as requesting a formal hearing, submitting evidence, requesting a telephone call, or informal conference, depending on your specific circumstances, you might not know what option is best for you. In most cases, your fine can be substantially reduced, but that is where having an experienced attorney can be beneficial. Christopher Chapman and Miranda Hanley with Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC have experience assisting those who have been cited or charged for carrying a firearm through a security checkpoint and reducing TSA fines. They are familiar with the process and know exactly what the TSA looks for when determining whether or not to reduce a fine. They can help you through the process in federal district court and assist you in presenting your best case to TSA officials. In most cases, your case can be handled for a flat fee. If you have recently been cited or arrested and need assistance, reach out to Christopher Chapman or Miranda Hanley today for a free consultation! They can be reached via telephone at (770) 389-4864 or through e-mail at cchapman@smithwelchlaw.com or mhanley@smithwelchlaw.com.

 

            If you regularly carry a firearm and are a frequent flyer, here are some tips to help you avoid carrying a firearm through a security checkpoint:

 

·         Always carry your firearm in a separate bag. Avoid carrying your firearm in your purse, book bag, briefcase, or any other bag you may carry on a daily basis. If you carry your firearm in the same bag you carry on a daily basis, it is easy to forget about it being there.

·         When you fly, use a separate suitcase, duffle bag, or carry-on. Do not through your clothing and toiletries into that same purse, book bag, or briefcase you carry on a daily basis. The night before your flight, repack everything into your separate bag.

·         When at home, always store your firearm in the same location, whether it is a nightstand, safe, closet, etc. Prior to leaving for your flight, double-check your firearm storage location to make sure your firearm is there.

·         Purchase some bright colored carabiner clips, which can typically be purchased for less than a dollar at any local grocery store or supercenter and are often located near the checkout aisle. Whenever you are carrying a bag containing a firearm, attach one of the bright-colored clips to the outside.

·         Double-check your luggage before you get in line at the security checkpoint. Firearms are often permitted outside of the security checkpoints. If you double-check your luggage before getting in line and locate a firearm you may be able to spare yourself the headache of being arrested or receiving a citation. However, once you enter the security checkpoint and get in line, you may be prohibited from leaving.

 

Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC., is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia with expertise in this area of law. We have an uncompromising commitment to serving our clients and community. Our team of experts routinely handle a wide range of legal matters beyond criminal law, and will be happy to provide outstanding service for you, your family, or your business.

 

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 


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