Convicted felons are not permitted to ship, transport or possess any firearm or ammunition that has been distributed in interstate or foreign commerce.
Doing so is the federal crime of “felon in possession of a firearm.” As a Class D felony, a conviction for possession of a firearm can carry steep penalties, including up to 10 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines.
If you or someone you love has been accused of illegally possessing a firearm, it’s important to speak with a skilled federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help you understand the details of your case and begin building your defense.
What is ‘Felon in Possession of a Firearm?’
The federal law that governs “felon in possession of a firearm” charges is 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).
This statute makes it illegal for individuals who have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to possess a firearm or ammunition. It is important to note that this law applies to both actual physical possession of a firearm and “constructive possession,” which means having control over the firearm or the ability to exercise control over it, even if it is not physically on your person.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), you can be charged with “felon in possession of a firearm” if:
- You have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
- You knowingly possess a firearm or ammunition.
- The firearm or ammunition has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
It is important to note that this federal law applies even if your felony conviction occurred in a different state or if the firearm or ammunition was obtained outside the United States.
Penalties If You Are Convicted of Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charges
A conviction for “felon in possession of a firearm” under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) carries significant penalties, including:
- Imprisonment: If convicted, you could face up to 10 years in federal prison. In some cases, the sentence can be enhanced based on your criminal history or the circumstances of your offense, which may result in a longer prison term.
- Fines: In addition to imprisonment, a conviction for “felon in possession of a firearm” can result in a fine of up to $250,000.
- Supervised Release: After serving a prison sentence, you may be placed on supervised release, which can include various conditions such as regular meetings with a probation officer, drug testing, and restrictions on firearm possession.
- Loss of Rights: A conviction for “felon in possession of a firearm” can result in the loss of certain civil rights, including the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury.
Defenses Against Charges Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)
There are several potential defenses to charges under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) that an experienced attorney can explore on your behalf. Some of these defenses include:
- Lack of Knowledge: If you can show that you did not know you were in possession of a firearm or ammunition, you may have a valid defense against the charges.
- Invalid Prior Conviction: If your prior felony conviction was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, or if the conviction has been expunged, pardoned, or set aside, you may be able to challenge the charges on this basis.
- Intra-State Commerce: If the firearm or ammunition did not travel in interstate or foreign commerce, the federal law may not apply, and you may have a defense to the charges.
- Fourth Amendment Violations: If law enforcement obtained the firearm or ammunition through an illegal search and seizure, you may be able to challenge the admissibility of the evidence based on a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
- Entrapment: If you can demonstrate that law enforcement induced you to possess the firearm or ammunition when you otherwise would not have done so, you may have a valid entrapment defense.
It is important to remember that every case is unique, and the specific defenses available to you will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. An experienced attorney like Robert M. Helfend can thoroughly investigate your case, identify the most effective defenses, and advocate aggressively on your behalf.
With over 30 years of experience in criminal defense, Attorney Robert M. Helfend is rated by SuperLawyers and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Call today for a free case review at 800-834-6434.