Federal Firearm Charges Carry Serious Consequences
Firearms are heavily regulated, and federal firearm charges can come in a variety of different situations, all of which carry potentially enormous punishment. The advise and counsel of an experienced federal criminal lawyer is invaluable in reaching a positive result when faced with a firearm charge.
Under the federal firearms law in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), it is illegal for the following people to possess a firearm:
- Anyone who has been convicted in any court of a felony;
- Anyone who is a fugitive from justice;
- Anyone who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
- Anyone who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
- Anyone who is an alien and illegally in the United States.
- Anyone who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- Anyone who has renounced their U.S. citizenship;
- Anyone who is who is subject to a court order involving domestic violence;
- Anyone who has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony.
Punishment for a federal firearm charge can be very severe.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 924, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) normally carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison. Where the firearm is used in a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime there can be a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, a minimum sentence of 7 years if the firearm is “brandished,” and a minimum of 10 years if the firearm is discharged.
If the firearm is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, the sentence cannot be less than 10 years. If the firearm is a machine-gun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, the sentence cannot be less than 30 years. If the person facing the federal firearm charge has a prior conviction of a federal firearm charge, the new charge carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years.
Under the federal firearm statute, certain definitions apply as follows:
- The term “drug trafficking crime” means any felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), or chapter 705 of title 46.
- The term “crime of violence” means an offense that is a felony and has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or is, by its nature, involving a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
- The term “brandish” means, with respect to a firearm, to display all or part of the firearm, or otherwise make the presence of the firearm known to another person, in order to intimidate that person, regardless of whether the firearm is directly visible to that person.