Gun charges carry severe penalties under federal law. Whether it is illegal possession, selling a weapon illegally, or using a firearm in another criminal offense, prosecutors put the full weight of the federal government behind these cases. A conviction can carry jail time and steep fines.
The Simmrin Law Group’s Los Angeles federal gun lawyers can help. Our criminal defense attorneys have focused their entire careers on winning in federal court. In many cases, we are able to resolve charges without prison time, often with a verdict of not guilty.
When Does a Gun Offense Go to Federal Court Instead of the Los Angeles Superior Court?
There are several cases where gun charges become federal. These can include:
- A felon in possession of a firearm
- Furtherance of certain crimes
- When related to a federal investigation
A Felon in Possession of a Firearm
When a convicted felon is accused of possessing a firearm, it can be charged under state or federal law. Prosecutors may make this decision in part based on the type of gun involved, the number of weapons involved, or other factors.
If you have multiple prior convictions or any violence occurred in relation to the firearm, it is especially likely to be bumped up to the federal level.
Furtherance of Certain Crimes
Under 18 United States Code 924(c), if the weapon was used in furtherance of certain crimes, the weapon charge will normally be prosecuted at the federal level. This includes crimes like drug trafficking, brandishing a firearm, or shooting a gun while committing a felony.
When Related to a Federal Investigation
Some weapons charges come about as a by-product of federal agents investigating something else, such as drug trafficking or another crime. 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 federal prosecution.
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). When going up against federal prosecutors, you need an experienced federal gun attorney in Los Angeles on your side to fight the charges.
For a free legal consultation with a federal gun lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
What Are the Most Common Federal Gun Charges?
Federal gun laws are complex, and there are many possible charges. Two of the most common federal gun charges are illegal possession of a firearm and weapon charges against gun dealers.
Illegal Possession of a Firearm
Convicted felons are not allowed to own firearms or possess them in any way. There are also many other circumstances where it would be unlawful to have a gun. Illegal possession is probably the single most common gun charge we see, and it can take two forms.
The first type of illegal possession charge is actual possession. Actual possession basically means you were found with the gun on you, in your car, or otherwise within your possession. This often involves having a gun used to commit a crime, where the weapon has been recovered by law enforcement.
The second type of illegal possession is constructive possession. Constructive possession is when 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. Doing so shows that you clearly had one, even if the police don’t find it.
Another example would be where there is security footage of you running out of a store with stolen goods in your hand, and the clerk of the store is found shot. Even if the 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. There are two common forms of illegal firearm sales.
Straw sales are when a gun dealer sells a weapon legally to someone allowed to have it. Then, that person resells 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. However, the original dealer will be prosecuted if investigators believe 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 are a common charge brought against licensed firearm dealers. Federal law states that a single person can only purchase one gun at a time. They must also wait at least five days before buying another one. All firearms dealers are required to facilitate this law and enforce the five-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.
Los Angeles Federal Gun Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
What Are the Penalties for a Federal Gun Conviction?
The penalties for a federal gun conviction will depend on the offense, your prior criminal history (if any), and the case details. In general, you can expect all of the following if convicted of any federal gun charge:
- Prison time
- Significant fines, which are typically greater 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 died or was seriously injured because of the offense.
Federal firearm penalties can vary greatly. However, even with a minor charge, you can expect to face severe consequences if you are convicted. For federal gun charges involving violent crimes or drug trafficking, the mandatory minimum sentence is five years for the mildest charge.
Any charge that involves a violent crime or drug trafficking carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The best thing you can do if facing federal weapon charges is to get immediate legal help. Federal cases involve tough, seasoned prosecutors supported by thorough investigation from federal agencies. You need a seasoned federal gun lawyer in Los Angeles who understands how to fight your case.
Defenses Against a Federal Gun Charge
There are many potential defenses that you may be able to use against a federal gun charge. The option that is right for you depends upon the specifics of your case. Your L.A. federal gun attorney will devise a strategy that will suit the particulars of your case.
Two of the most commonly used defenses in federal gun crime cases are illegal search and seizure and self-defense.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful search and seizure. Law enforcement officers must have either a search warrant or probable cause, to lawfully search your person or property. Any evidence seized in an unlawful search can be suppressed in court and may even result in the outright dismissal of your case.
The same is true when evidence is gathered properly but mishandled at any point in the chain of custody.
In many cases, self-defense can be a valid defense. If you can show that there was an imminent danger to yourself, you will likely not be found guilty of an illegal possession charge.
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Talk to a Los Angeles Federal Gun Lawyer for Free
A federal gun charge can result in hefty fines and a lengthy prison sentence. It’s important to have an experienced Los Angeles federal firearm lawyer by your side. The attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group know how to fight federal gun charges, and we have the experience to win cases.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. A member of our legal team will review your case and advise you of all your options.