Are there any legal protections for an unlicensed person who took a firearm from an overly intoxicated person who was trying to kill themselves and then charged with an unlawful possession of a firearm charge?

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Are there any legal protections for an unlicensed person who took a firearm from an overly intoxicated person who was trying to kill themselves and then charged with an unlawful possession of a firearm charge?

A friend was overly drinking, had been in a stupor the entire time we were together. In his intoxicated state, he made several attempts to end his life. Intervention of the first 2 caused me no trouble. The third, however, involved a firearm, a pistol. After disarming the person and putting him to sleep in his room, I took the weapon and was walking to the store. On the way back, I got stopped by the cops. Unaware of the law on firearms in South Carolina, I laid the weapon on the ground, put my hands up and co-operated with the police, under the pretense I was doing nothing wrong. Now the person in question didn’t report the gun as stolen but didn’t stand up for me either. He just made a simple statement of I don’t know or remember I was drunk. Now I’m looking at a problem in my life die to one persons ineptitude and unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions. Are their any legalities relieving legal responsibilities for wrong doing for being a good samaritan?

Asked on August 22, 2019 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

You say that you were "unaware" of the the state's firearms law, but as old saying, which you've probably heard, goes, "ignorance of the law is no defence": not knowing the law is not a defence to having violated it. It is possible that the prosecutor will elect to voluntarily dismiss the case given the facts; it is also possible that if you go to trial (rather than take a plea deal, if a favorable one is offered) that a judge would choose to dismiss--but they don't have to. You can be held strictly accountable for violating the firearms law. 


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