Federal Firearm Possession Laws
Possession of certain firearms or by specific individuals is prohibited under federal law. Those who are convicted of this offense face not only prison time and fines, but also permanent firearm restrictions, so if you have been accused of illegally possessing a firearm, it is critical to speak with an experienced federal crime lawyer who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Possession by a Prohibited Person
Under federal law, a person can be convicted of the illegal possession or receipt of a firearm if he or she:
- Is a felon;
- Is a person awaiting trial on felony charges;
- Is a drug user or addict;
- Is an alien who was not admitted for permanent residence;
- Is subject to a domestic restraining order that prohibits contact with an intimate partner or child;
- Has a prior conviction for domestic assault;
- Has fled any state to avoid prosecution or testifying in a criminal proceeding; or
- Was dishonorably discharged from the military.
Those who fall under one or more of these categories can be convicted of the illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition if the weapons were transported across state lines at any time. This offense is punishable by up to ten years in prison, although defendants could receive an enhanced sentence of 15 years if they have three or more prior convictions for crimes of violence. Knowingly selling, giving, or disposing of a firearm to any person who falls within one of the above categories can also be charged under federal law and can lead to a sentence of a maximum of ten years in prison.
Using a Firearm in Connection with a Drug Trafficking Offense or Crime of Violence
Federal law also prohibits the use, carrying, or possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug offense or crime of violence. What qualifies as “using” a firearm has been broadly interpreted by the courts to be more than just mere possession. Instead, a defendant must have actively employed the weapon by brandishing, displaying battering, striking with, or firing or attempting to fire it. In fact, even referencing the existence or presence of a firearm can qualify as being “used” if doing so was intended to make the transaction easier. Finally, a weapon can be said to be possessed in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime if it advances or helps further the offense. Unlike standard possession charges, prosecutors are not required to prove that the defendant’s weapon traveled across state lines in order to obtain a conviction. Defendants who are convicted usually face a five year prison sentence, although the penalty can be enhanced if the weapon was brandished or discharged, or if a rifle, shotgun, or machine gun was used.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Miami Federal Crime Lawyer
To speak with an experienced federal crime lawyer about your own pending firearm charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. in Miami at 305-670-9919 today. A member of our legal team is standing by and eager to start working on your case.