Possible Penalties for Possessing a Firearm as a Prohibited Person

Possible Penalties for Possessing a Firearm as a Prohibited Person

| April 12th 2024
Possible penalties for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person

In the United States, the right to bear arms is highly valued. But there are strict laws about who can and cannot possess firearms. If you fall into the category of a prohibited person under federal law, having a gun can lead to grievous trouble. These rules aim to prevent gun violence and protect community safety.

Being found with a firearm as a prohibited person can result in harsh penalties, including jail time. The law identifies certain conditions and past behaviors that define someone as prohibited. Awareness of these regulations is needed for those unsure if they can have a gun.

At Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers, we help individuals obtain justice when they are convicted of a crime.

Who Qualifies as a Prohibited Person?

Many states have enacted prohibitions that mirror federal law in the areas of felony convictions, domestic violence, mental health, and drug addiction prohibitions. Under federal law, several categories of people are not allowed to possess firearms. This includes: 

  • a person convicted of a felony offense.
  • those under certain domestic violence restraining orders.
  • unlawful users of controlled substances. 
  • those involuntarily committed to a mental institution in the past.

The law aims to reduce the risk of harm by preventing access to guns by those who might misuse them.

In addition, those considered a danger to themselves or others are prohibited. The criteria are specific and based on past actions or legal decisions that suggest a risk in allowing firearm possession. Knowing if you fall into one of these categories is the first step in complying with gun laws.

Legal Definitions and Criteria

The Gun Control Act and various state laws provide clear definitions of who is considered a prohibited person.

For example, anyone with a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence conviction is barred from possessing firearms. This includes a broad range of actions beyond just felony convictions. While the Gun Control Act can be confusing, we have the proficiency to help you understand the details.

The specifics can get complicated, involving various legal interpretations and exceptions. For instance, being an unlawful user of a controlled substance involves not only convictions but also current behavior patterns. Legal guidance is often needed to know these definitions and how they apply to individual circumstances. Contact us today if you need clarification.

Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm

Prohibited persons carrying guns is a federal crime that can result in severe penalties. This is a crime punishable by years in federal prison, substantial fines, and a permanent mark on your criminal record.

The exact penalty often depends on the individual's past and the specifics of their case. It also depends on how state and federal statutes are applied to your case. It is possible to face charges both in state and federal court.

Furthermore, penalties can be harsher if the firearm possession is linked to another criminal act or if it's not the individual's first offense.

The law takes a strong stance against illegal weapon possession, reflecting its commitment to preventing gun violence and ensuring public safety. You need a strong defense. Reach out to us for a case consultation.

Understanding the Severity of Charges

The severity of charges for possessing firearms unlawfully can vary considerably. Factors like the type of firearm, the person's criminal history, and the circumstances of the arrest all play a role. Judges and prosecutors consider these details when deciding on penalties.

Aggravating Factors That Influence Penalties

  • Type of firearm. Illegal possession of certain types of firearms, like automatic weapons, can lead to more severe penalties.
  • Linked criminal activity. Penalties can increase if possessing the gun is part of another crime, like drug trafficking or criminal trespass.
  • Number of firearms. Having multiple illegal weapons can result in harsher consequences than possessing a single firearm.
  • Past convictions. Individuals with previous felony convictions may face stricter penalties than first-time offenders.
  • Location of the offense. Being caught with a firearm in places where guns are strictly prohibited, such as schools, can escalate the severity of the punishment.

The Impact of Prior Convictions

Prior convictions, especially for violent crimes or previous firearm offenses, highly affect sentencing. Repeat offenders often face longer prison terms and higher fines. The legal system aims to deter repeat offenses by escalating the consequences for those who continue to break the law.

Legal Defenses and Mitigating Strategies

Legal defenses and mitigating strategies
  • Lack of knowledge. Arguing that the individual was unaware they possessed the firearm or didn't understand their prohibition status.
  • Unlawful search and seizure. If the firearm was found during an illegal search, the evidence might be excluded from the trial.
  • Mistaken identity. Demonstrating that the accused was wrongly identified as the possessor of the firearm.
  • Temporary possession. Claiming that the possession was temporary and for a lawful purpose, like preventing harm to others.
  • Restoration of rights. Showing that the individual's right to possess firearms was legally restored, negating their prohibited status.

Challenging the Basis of the Prohibition

Sometimes, the reason for the prohibition itself can be contested. For instance, if the initial felony offense was downgraded to a misdemeanor that doesn't restrict gun ownership or if there was a mistake in the record, legal nuances like these can be pivotal in a defense strategy.

Contesting the Facts of the Possession

Arguing against the facts of possession involves disputing how the firearm was discovered or the accused's control over it. This might mean challenging witnesses' credibility or the interpretation of evidence. Each case detail can be vital in forming a defense.

What Happens After an Arrest for Prohibited Possession of a Firearm?

  1. Arrest and booking. After arrest, you'll be processed and booked at the police station.
  2. Initial appearance. You'll have a court appearance where charges are formally read and bail is considered.
  3. Attorney consultation. It's critical to consult with a defense attorney early to discuss your case and defense strategies.
  4. Discovery process. Your attorney will receive evidence from the prosecution, reviewing it for weaknesses or rights violations.
  5. Pre-trial motions. If your rights were violated during the arrest, motions might be filed to dismiss charges or suppress evidence.
  6. Plea negotiations. Your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor, possibly leading to reduced charges or a plea deal.
  7. Trial. If the case goes to trial, your defense team will present evidence and arguments on your behalf.

How We Defend You Against Gun Charges

How we defend you against gun charges
  • Comprehensive case analysis. We review every detail of your case to identify the best defense strategies.
  • Evidence challenges. We scrutinize the evidence against you, looking for ways to challenge its credibility or admissibility.
  • Expert witnesses. We may employ expert witnesses to testify on matters like firearm operation or mental health status.
  • Negotiating plea deals. When appropriate, we negotiate with prosecutors to achieve the most favorable outcome possible.
  • Asserting constitutional rights. We ensure that your constitutional rights are respected throughout the legal process, using any violations to strengthen your defense.

We Tailor Your Defense To Match Your Needs

Every case is unique, and we adapt our defense strategies to match the specifics of your situation. Whether it's arguing for the legality of your firearm possession, challenging evidence, or negotiating with prosecutors, our goal is to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome.

Our personalized approach focuses on your specific circumstances, history, and case details. This customized defense can be necessary for navigating the complexities of gun charge defenses and working toward a favorable resolution.

We Represent You at Sentencing

If the case goes to sentencing, we advocate for minimal penalties and argue for alternatives to incarceration, like probation or community service. Our representation includes presenting mitigating factors and emphasizing any positive aspects of your background and character.

Criteria for a Case Dismissal

Sometimes, it's possible to argue for a case dismissal based on insufficient evidence, procedural errors, or constitutional violations.

Successful dismissal means the charges are dropped, avoiding the penalties associated with a conviction. We thoroughly examine each case for these opportunities, advocating for dismissal whenever possible.

Let Our Los Angeles Firearms Lawyer Defend Your Rights With a Free Consultation

Let our Los Angeles firearms lawyer defend your rights with a free consultation

Facing charges for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person can have life-changing consequences. You don't have to face this situation alone. Olen Firm Criminal Defense Lawyers offers expert defense for those accused of firearms offenses, protecting your rights and freedom.

Illegal firearms possession is prosecuted vigorously under state law. If you have been accused of illegally possessing guns, let us defend your rights. Contact us today for a case consultation.

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