Carrying a Pistol Without a License (CPWL)

In order to secure a conviction for Carrying a Pistol Without a License (CPWL) as a misdemeanor in D.C., the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the defendant carried a pistol on or about his/her person, (2) the defendant did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident; and (3) the defendant was not licensed to carry the pistol by the D.C. Chief of Police.

CPWL as a felony offense in the District requires the government to prove two additional elements, also beyond a reasonable doubt.  First, the government must prove that the defendant carried the pistol in a place other than his/her home, place of business, or land/premises possessed and controlled by the defendant.  Second, the government must prove that the pistol could fire a bullet or other projectile.

“Pistol” is defined as a firearm that has a barrel of less than 12 inches or that was originally designed to be fired with a single hand.  “Firearm” is defined as a weapon, regardless of operability, that is designed as or readily converted into a device that can expel a bullet or other projectile by an action of an explosive.

A person “carries a pistol on or about his/her person” if the firearm is either in the person’s direct possession or is conveniently accessible/within reach.  Possession may be shared with one or more people.  Mere presence near a pistol or mere knowledge of its location is not enough to show that the defendant carried it.  Instead, the person must have the power and intent to exercise control over the pistol.

CPWL is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.  CPWL as a felony carries a maximum sentence of 5 years and/or fine of up to $5,000.  D.C. Code § 22-4504.   D.C. Code § 22-4515.