Omaha gun law penalties can range from misdemeanor fines to felony jail time. Depending on the accused’s prior criminal history, the circumstances surrounding the arrest, and how the person intended to use the weapon, the prosecutor will decide how to file charges.
For these reasons, if you are charged with violating Omaha or Nebraska gun laws you should consult with an experienced gun attorney from Berry Law as soon as possible to reduce or eliminate your potential criminal penalties.
What Factors Affect Gun Law Penalties in Omaha?
Since handgun laws can be a combination of state, local, and federal rules, understanding the laws that apply in Omaha can be confusing. Also, there are several factors that influence the penalties for gun offenses.
Generally, an individual will receive less harsh penalties if they are of good character and made an honest mistake. However, every person who wants to legally possess a gun must be aware of the relevant rules because ignorance of the applicable laws is not a defense in these cases.
Are You Allowed to Possess a Gun in Omaha?
The Nebraska constitution specifically addresses the right to keep and bear arms in Article 1 Section 1. Although Nebraska’s laws are also governed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the state laws are more specific. Nebraska gun laws set forth who can legally possess a firearm, how they can carry it, and where they can bring it in the state.
Only people who are 18 years old or older can possess a firearm in Omaha and only if they are not disqualified under the law. The qualification laws can be confusing, so it’s best to consult with a knowledgeable gun possession lawyer at Berry Law if you have any questions.
Nebraska firearms law also establishes different requirements for handguns as opposed to rifles or shotguns. A handgun is defined as a firearm with a barrel not exceeding 16 inches that can be used with only one hand. The strictest laws apply to handguns because they are easy to use and conceal.
What is the Difference between Concealed Carry and Open Carry?
Basically, concealed carry means you are in possession of a handgun while no part of it is visible or uncovered. It is entirely hidden from view. Open carry means some portion of the gun can be seen while in your possession. If you want to conceal your handgun, you must obtain a concealed carry permit. To transport a gun in a vehicle, you must have a concealed carry permit or the gun must be visible to meet the open carry requirements.
In general, Nebraska law allows anyone who can lawfully possess a handgun to carry it openly without a permit, unless the city ordinances restrict open carry. In Omaha, in the past, a gun owner had to complete a course to qualify for open carry. Although that may sound simple, the only authorized course provider stopped offering the required course, so there was no way to comply with the ordinance. As of September 10, 2023, new rules create a lawful way to openly carry a handgun in Omaha.
Who Can Obtain a Concealed Carry Permit in Omaha?
To qualify for a concealed carry permit, you must:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Possess a valid Nebraska ID – driver’s license, state ID card, or military ID
- Permanently reside in Nebraska for at least 180 days before applying
- Be eligible under federal law to possess a handgun
- Not have a felony conviction anywhere
- Successfully complete a vision test
- Successfully complete a firearms safety course
- Not have a misdemeanor conviction related to a violent act within 10 years
- Not be diagnosed with mental illness in the prior 10 years
- Not have a prior gun or drug conviction in the past 10 years
- Not be on probation, parole, or work release for any crime.
If someone is convicted of a firearm-related crime, prosecutors often seek to either prohibit the perpetrator from owning guns in the future or to confiscate the firearms that were relevant to the crime.
If you are stopped by police or emergency services while carrying a concealed firearm, you must produce your concealed carry permit and a state ID, and tell the official you have a concealed weapon. Failing to disclose a concealed weapon is also a crime and you could lose your permit.
Nebraska Gun Laws: Misdemeanor Gun Charges Versus Felony Charges
In Omaha, laws that criminalize possessing a firearm in a gun-free zone can be charged in two ways: one imposes misdemeanor penalties, while the other labels the crime as a felony.
If you are charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed firearm in Omaha, you are facing a Class 1 misdemeanor charge which carries a potential one-year jail sentence and a maximum fine of $1,000. Subsequent offenses can be elevated to a Class IV felony.
If you are a restricted person (you do not qualify for a firearm permit) and you are in possession of a deadly weapon, it is a Class 1D felony under Nebraska law for a first offense. A second similar offense can be charged as a Class 1B felony.
Law enforcement often charges an individual in violation of Omaha’s gun laws with a felony. However, the accused party will have a better chance at pleading that down to a misdemeanor with a skilled criminal defense lawyer on their side.
Also, the circumstances surrounding your arrest must be carefully analyzed. If the arresting officer did anything to violate your civil rights, such as performing an unlawful search and seizure, the entire arrest and related charges should be challenged. If successful in showing how your rights were violated by the arresting officer, your charges may be reduced or completely dismissed.
An experienced gun possession lawyer can also raise fact-specific defenses to help argue for a reduction in charges. For instance, a technical violation, which involves an otherwise honest mistake by a law-abiding citizen, is more likely to be reduced to a misdemeanor with a sound legal argument.
Another Possible Misdemeanor Gun Charge: Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
In the city of Omaha, the penalty for unlawful discharge of a firearm is a maximum of one year in jail as a misdemeanor gun charge. The penalties for unlawful discharge of a firearm in a gun-free zone may be more severe.
For example, someone may be charged with a felony for possessing a firearm in a gun-free zone in addition to the misdemeanor consequences. If that person kills or seriously hurts somebody, they could be charged with assault and gun possession offenses.
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Civil Gun Law Penalties
Additional penalties that may apply for a person found guilty of gun offenses in Omaha include civil penalties such as loss of firearm rights or the loss of privilege to obtain a concealed carry permit. These restrictions may be more important to an individual than the penalties themselves.
For instance, if someone is charged with a misdemeanor gun ordinance violation in Omaha and they are a concealed carry holder, they might be less concerned about a $300 fine than they would be about losing their concealed carry privileges.
Someone could even lose their job under these statutes. A police officer who unlawfully possesses a firearm would ultimately lose their job. A member of the military can also be discharged under dishonorable circumstances for the illegal possession of a gun.
Ask an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney at Berry Law About Potential Omaha Gun Law Penalties
Whether you need assistance with proving your innocence, fulfilling procedural requirements, or understanding the impact a conviction can have on your rights and employment, one of the dedicated attorneys at Berry Law can help create a defense for your Omaha gun law penalties.
If you try to resolve these matters on your own, you will face the the complicated legal system without a strong advocate on your side. Sadly, your chances of success will be slim. To protect your legal rights and your entire future, contact Berry Law today to get started.