New SC Legislation to Nullify Charges for Actions Now Legal Under Revised Gun Laws

New SC Legislation to Nullify Charges for Actions Now Legal Under Revised Gun Laws

Columbia, South Carolina — Some South Carolinians are currently facing criminal charges for actions that were unlawful until last month but are now legal.

Some lawmakers do not believe this is fair and are working to change it. The chief sponsor of a new bill moving through the State House describes it as a “clean up” of the permitless carry or constitutional carry gun law, which went into force earlier this year.

“You’re pulled over for speeding or something, and the cop asks, ‘Do you have a gun?’ “Yes, and it will be between the seats, under the seats, and in the bookbag,” said Sen. Deon Tedder, D-Charleston. “You would either have to have it in a locked compartment in your vehicle or your center console.” That type of incident was formerly illegal in South Carolina, and it would have most likely resulted in an unlawful carry penalty.

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However, the governor’s permitless carry gun bill, which went into force last month, makes it no longer prohibited. “So, two days before Gov. McMaster signed the measure, individual A pleaded guilty to unlawful carry. “They can have that expunged,” Tedder stated.

The new statute allows for expungement if the offender was convicted before its adoption in early March. However, it does not account for persons who have pending unlawful carry charges that have been negated by the new law, thus this bill would dismiss those cases.

“The intent of this is not to find some loophole to just throw away cases,” Tedder said in a statement. “This is legitimately to protect those who now, I mean, constitutionally, are allowed to carry anywhere, to not have to plead guilty,” Tedder stated that this will also eliminate a backlog of unlawful carry cases that prosecutors have before them, so alleviating their overburdened dockets.

There is one caveat: if the unlawful possession allegation was used as probable cause for another offense resulting from the same occurrence, this bill would not dismiss the other charges. On Wednesday, the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association expressed concerns to members of a House Judiciary subcommittee about this bill.

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“This bill, as worded, does not allow law enforcement or prosecutors to review and examine each case before making a decision. “We believe that violates the separation of powers in this state,” said Sally Foster, Executive Director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.

Lawmakers have just over two weeks left in the legislative session, so this bill must pass both the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives within that time frame, or it will die for the year and have to be refiled in 2025.

However, the measure is progressing significantly faster than typical proposals, having been overwhelmingly cleared in the Senate despite only being introduced last month.

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