Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated

In the state of Ohio, there are several misdemeanor firearm offenses an individual can commit without even knowing it. Possession of a firearm while intoxicated is one of those offenses.

Under the law, an individual may be charged and convicted of a class A misdemeanor simply for having a firearm in their possession while or after drinking. The statute does not require the individual be actually using the firearm. Nor does it require the person to be legally drunk of have a blood alcohol content or BAC over 0.08.

Common scenarios that have led to a possession of a firearm while intoxication charge:

  • Routine traffic stops during which law enforcement is informed or discovers the presence of a firearm.
  • Law enforcement is called to the scene where a person is using a firearm and alcohol or drug use is suspected.
  • Law enforcement witnesses an individual in the possession of a firearm while consuming alcohol.

This offense has serious consequences, including expensive fines and/or jail time. It is important to consult an experienced firearm arrest lawyer when preparing a defense.

Columbus Firearm While Intoxicated Lawyer

If you have been charged with possession of a firearm while intoxicated in Columbus, Ohio, contact the Joslyn Law Firm. The attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm have extensive experience defending individuals charged with firearm offenses in Ohio. Call Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation about your firearm or weapon charges.


Ohio Firearm and Weapon Law Information Center


Legislative Purpose

In 1974 the Ohio Legislature enacted Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.15, which states:

(A) No person, while under the influence of alcohol or any drug of abuse, shall carry or use any firearm or dangerous ordnance.

(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of using weapons while intoxicated, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Legislators concluded the rationale for the offense is that carrying or using firearms or dangerous ordnance without having complete control of one's faculties presents a danger as great as driving while intoxicated. The statute permits law enforcement officers to step in and prevent the commission of more serious crimes, as well as tragic accidents.

While the purpose of the statute was benevolent and intended to protect the public, the construction of the statute presents several problems for individuals charged with the offense and the attorney’s representing them.

First, the statute may be titled “Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated”; however, the statute itself does not have a specific legal intoxication requirement.

Second, the statute criminalizes both the possession and use of the a firearm will under the influence of alcohol. Currently, it is entirely possible for an individual to be charged for simply having a firearm in the general vicinity during or after consuming alcohol.

An individual convicted of  possession of a firearm while intoxicated is subject to up to six months imprisonment and a fine of no more than $1,000.


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“Possession” and “Use” Elements

Ohio courts have not spent significant time defining or explaining the definitions of “possession” and “use” of a firearm under Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.15. In fact, the courts use terms like “handle”, “carry”, and other simple terms supporting the courts do not use a specific, legal definition rather a laymen term when determining whether a defendant was in possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

Courts have even upheld convictions where a defendant was considered in possession of a firearm, although the firearm was not readily accessible. Although overly broad, courts have considered a defendant to be in possession when the firearm was located in:

  • Glove compartment of a vehicle
  • Inside of a defendant’s boot
  • Inside of a defendant’s bag or purse

Because of the overly inclusive nature of the statutory language in Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.15, it is highly recommended to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge of Ohio’s weapons and firearm laws. Do not challenge these charges alone.


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Under the Influence

The title of the statute infers that a defendant must be intoxicated or have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit; however this is misleading. The actual language of the statute states that an individual must be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Under the influence means that the defendant consumed or used alcohol (or drugs) in such a quantity where the actions or mental processes were adversely affected. A defendant is considered to be under the influence if the court determines that the defendant did not have a clearness of intellect or control, which he or she would have otherwise possessed.

 Whether a defendant is under the influence is often a factual determination. The court does not require the defendant submitted to blood or alcohol testing before or after the arrest. Witness testimony or defendant admission of having a few beers, having blood shot eyes, or smelling like alcohol has been sufficient to satisfy the “under the influence” requirement.

 


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Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Firearm While Intoxicated Defense Attorney

Possession of a firearm while intoxicated is a serious offense, which could cause severe consequences, including jail time and steep fines. Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today to discuss the facts of your case. Columbus criminal attorney, Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm will make every effort to help you avoid the most severe penalties and punishments for the charges against you. Call the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your possession of a firearm while intoxicated charge in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.