With a few narrow exceptions such as hunting or while on your own land, the open carry of a firearm is not permitted in South Carolina. In order to carry a firearm concealed, you must possess a Concealed Weapon Permit (“CWP”) and have it in your possession anytime you carry a concealed firearm.
South Carolina is a “shall issue” state, which means that anyone who qualifies for a CWP must be issued it by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”), which has no discretion to deny a license to a qualified individual. So, why do so many South Carolinians get denied when applying for a CWP license? What can you do if you feel that you have been wrongly denied a CWP?
Reasons for Denial or Delay
One problem causing individuals to get denied a CWP or delayed approval for a substantial period of time is the way the current process is being administered by SLED. Although South Carolina law requires SLED to issue the license within 90 days of a completed application being submitted, the law also allows the suspension of that time limitation in the event the department receives criminal history information with no final disposition on a crime which may disqualify the applicant, until receipt of the final disposition or proof of restoration of civil and firearm rights.
Instead of reaching directly out to the clerk of the court in the jurisdiction the criminal history information originates, SLED requires the applicant to provide documentation showing the final disposition of the case. This creates another problem with the application process because in many instances, especially when the case is very old, it may be nearly impossible to obtain this information in a timely manner, if at all. In many places throughout the country, court records have been placed in storage, lost, or even destroyed, so no record will exist.
Old Case Records
Furthermore, it can be a very frustrating process to obtain your old case records. Unfortunately, the process is often not an easy or quick process for an individual. Although many clerk’s offices offer records online, some do not make their records public, and some offices do not even have a website at all. Even if the records do exist online showing that the charge was disposed of as not guilty or dismissed, SLED requires a certified copy of that record. Some clerks will not accept requests for certified copies over the phone or the internet and require all requests to be made in person. This in itself can create an extreme hardship for an individual if the case occurred in a distant state.
Whether you are wrongfully denied a CWP or your application has been suspended until SLED receives more information, it is crucial you carefully read the letter that you receive from SLED regarding your application for a CWP. This letter will explain your rights and inform you of the steps needed to contest the denial of your CWP or to have your application suspension lifted. It will also inform you of any deadlines you must comply with to ensure your rights are not waived.
If you are having problems obtaining your CWP in South Carolina or have questions about the letter you have received from SLED, give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney. We look forward to speaking with you.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.