Under Ohio Law. R.C. § 2923.12, it is unlawful for a person to possess a firearm, i.e. a handgun, on his person, or ready at hand, that is concealed. In Columbus, Ohio, most arrests for CCW arise out of traffic stops and the firearm is found somewhere concealed in the vehicle. The police are not permitted to stop a vehicle merely because a suspicion exists that a weapon may be contained therein. Rather, the police will initially stop a vehicle because the driver committed a traffic violation. Upon approaching the vehicle, the police will allege to have observed movement by the driver or passenger, often called "furtive gestures," all of which will cause the police to believe that something illegal is being hidden thereby giving them a right to conduct a search. Sometimes, the hunches of the police are correct. The police search the vehicle and find a weapon or drugs or both.
In this scenario, a weapon recovered that is both loaded and operable will result in a charge of carrying concealed weapon which is a felony of the fourth degree. For first time offenders, a charge of CCW is probationable. However, for repeat offenders, or those also caught with drugs and large amounts of cash, a judge may consider prison as a viable option.
Ohio law allows certain well exceptions/defenses to a carrying concealed weapon charge. For example, if you possess a concealed carry license pursuant to R.C. 2923.125 and adhere to the requirements thereto, then in most instances you will not be charged with the offense of CCW. However, if the officer believes that you are under the influence of alcohol or a drug of abuse or engaged in some illegal activity, then you will be charged with a felony offense. This charge could not only result in a jail sentence and fines but also a loss of your concealed carry permit.
Additionally, Ohio law allows individuals who have high risk jobs that require the transport of large amounts of cash and/or those who are in danger due to threats to carry a concealed weapon. However, if you are asserting such a defense after having been charged with a CCW, you must prove that your claim is legitimate.
In addition, if the police violated your rights by conducting an illegal search, the court will not act upon its own initiative to dismiss the case. Rather, your lawyer must file a "motion to suppress" and have a pretrial hearing to show the judge that your rights were violated. Often times, by holding pretrial hearings, the Prosecution will see the weakness in the case and will dismiss it outright or reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
As one can see, Ohio law is complex when dealing with CCW charges. Police are generally not fond of private citizens carrying concealed weapons in their cars or when walking the streets of Columbus, Ohio. If you are charged with a weapons offense, you should contact the lawyer immediately to make sure your rights are protected.
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