Gun charges carry severe penalties under federal law. Whether it is illegal possession, selling a weapon illegally, or using a weapon in another criminal offense, prosecutors put the full weight of the federal government behind these cases—and a conviction carries jail time. You need to talk to a Los Angeles federal gun lawyer.
Let the Simmrin Law Group help. Our federal defense attorneys have focused their entire careers on winning in federal court. In many cases we are able to resolve charges without prison time—or even a verdict of Not Guilty. Let us give you a free consultation with our legal team. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
When does a gun offense go to federal court instead of the Los Angeles Superior Court?
There are several cases where gun charged become federal. These can include:
- Felon in possession of a firearm. When a person who has already been convicted of a previous felony is accused of possessing a firearm, it can be charged under state law or federal law. Prosecutors may make this decision in part based on the type of gun involved or the number of guns involved, or other factors. If you have multiple prior convictions or there was any violence involved, it is especially likely to be a federal charge.
- Furtherance of certain crimes. Under 18 United States Code 924(c) , if the weapon was possessed in “furtherance” or certain crimes, the weapon charge will normally be a federal charge. This includes crimes such as drug trafficking, brandishing a firearm or shooting a firearm while committing a felony.
- Related to a federal investigation. Some weapon charges come about as a by-product of federal agents investigating something else, such as drug trafficking or another charge. The gun offense may be added onto the other charge or, in some cases, the feds will even use the gun offense as the main charge when they cannot prove other allegations. In these cases you will generally face a federal charge.
Additionally, many gun crimes can end up in federal court if they were brought forward by a federal agency, such as the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
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What are the most common federal gun charges?
Federal gun laws are complex, and there are many possible charges. However, there are two charges that we see most often:
- Illegal possession of a firearm. Convicted felons are not allowed to own firearms or possess them in any way, and there are many other circumstances where it would be illegal to possess a firearm. Illegal possession is probably the single most common gun charge we see, and it cam take two forms:
- Actual possession. This basically means you were found with the gun on you, or in your car or otherwise within your possession. This often involves possession of a gun used to commit a crime, where the weapon has been recovered by law enforcement.
- “Constructive possession.” This means you weren’t found with the gun on you, but the prosecution can prove you must have had a gun. An obvious example is you posting pictures of yourself with a gun on social media—you clearly had one, even if police don’t find it. Another example would be where there is security footage of you leaving a store running, with stolen goods in your hand, and the clerk of the store is found shot. Even if police don’t recover the gun, prosecutors could make a case for possession.
- Weapon charges against gun dealers. Licensed firearms dealers can easily face gun charges related to illegal sales. It is possible for this to happen even if the firearm dealer is unaware that they are participating in an illegal sale. The most common examples are:
- “Straw sales.” This is when a gun dealer sells a weapon legally to someone who is allowed to have it, so that that person can then go and sell it illegally or to someone who is not allowed to have it (such as a convicted felon). Strictly speaking, the middleman is the one breaking gun sale laws, but the original dealer will be prosecuted if investigators believe that that person sold the weapon knowing how it would be resold. These are known as straw sales because they exist only to hide the true buyer.
- Waiting period violations. S. federal law states that a single person can only purchase one gun at a time, and that they must wait at least five days before purchasing another one. All firearms dealers are required to facilitate this law and enforce the 5-day waiting period (the “embargo”). If a dealer is believed to have knowingly violated this rule, they will face federal charges.
Offenses that involve the use of a firearm during a felony are also common in federal cases. However, many other kinds of gun crimes can also come to federal court.
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What are the penalties for a federal gun conviction?
The penalties will depend on the offense and, in many case, your prior criminal history (if any) and the details of the case. In general, you can expect all of the following if convicted of any federal gun charge:
- Prison time
- Large fines—typically larger than the equivalent offense under state law
- If anyone was harmed, you will have to pay restitution to the victim(s) or their families
Penalties are typically more severe if anyone suffered death or serious injury because of the offense.
The best thing you can do if you are facing federal weapon charges is to get get immediate legal help. Federal cases involve tough, seasoned prosecutors supported by thorough investigation from federal agencies. You need a seasoned federal defense lawyer who understands how to fight your case.
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Talk to a Los Angeles Federal Gun Lawyer for Free
The attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group know how to fight federal gun charges and we have the experience to win cases. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.