Since the federal government has been called upon to take a tough stance against gun crimes to reduce violence across the United States, federal prosecutors take firearm offenses very seriously. From unlawful possession of a gun to selling firearms without a license, there are a wide range of federal gun charges. A conviction carries serious criminal penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences in federal prison and costly fines.
If you are facing federal gun charges in Chattanooga, TN, our legal team at Best and Brock has the knowledge, experience, and resources to defend you throughout the legal process. We can thoroughly review your case, determine all your available legal options, and build a strong and personalized defense strategy to obtain the best possible outcome in court. Do not hesitate to let us protect your rights, reputation, and freedom immediately.
Federal Gun Charges
Anyone who improperly possesses, uses, purchases, or sells firearms when the sale or transport of those firearms crosses state lines or international borders can face federal gun charges. In addition, anyone who steals a firearm or receives a stolen gun may be charged by the federal court system.
The following are the most common federal gun charges and their associated penalties:
- Illegal possession of a firearm – Certain firearms and weapons are prohibited by federal law, including machine guns, fully automatic weapons, short-barreled (“sawed-off”) rifles and shotguns, destructive devices (e.g., rockets, missiles, bombs, etc.), and a gun silencer. A first conviction is punishable by federal imprisonment of up to 10 years. However, possession of a machine gun while committing a separate offense carries a mandatory minimum 30-year federal prison sentence.
- Possession of a firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person – Convicted felons, drug addicts or users, individuals convicted of a domestic violence offense or subject to a protective order, lawful or unlawful immigrants, individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship, and U.S. military veterans who were dishonorably discharged are prohibited from possessing a firearm. A conviction carries a maximum federal prison term of 10 years. Additionally, the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) sets minimum sentencing guidelines for those who have been convicted of unlawful gun possession and have had three prior violent felony convictions or serious drug convictions. Under ACCA, offenders with three previous violent felonies and/or serious drug charges can face a mandatory minimum of 15 years in a federal prison.
- Possession of a stolen firearm – Possessing or transporting a stolen gun or ammunition carries a federal prison sentence of up to 10 years.
- Possession of an altered or removed serial number – Gun owners are required to maintain the serial number on all firearms. If a person knowingly carries, transports, or delivers firearms with an altered or removed serial number, a conviction is punishable by a maximum federal prison term of 10 years.
- Possession of a firearm in a school zone – School campuses are known for being “gun-free zones.” Knowingly possessing a gun on school grounds is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to five years.
- Selling firearms without a license – Firearm dealers must obtain a license from the government to sell guns and ammunition. Selling a gun that crosses state lines without a license carries a maximum federal prison sentence of 10 years.
- Selling illegal firearms – Selling a machine gun, a fully automatic weapon, a short-barreled (“sawed-off”) rifle or shotgun, a destructive device (e.g., rockets, missiles, bombs, etc.), and a gun silencer is punishable by a federal prison term of up to 10 years.
- Straw purchase of a firearm – Purchasing a gun under false pretenses, by misrepresenting your identity, or providing false documentation is considered a “straw purchase,” which is punishable by federal imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- Possession or use of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense or violent crime – Carrying or using a firearm while committing drug trafficking or a violent crime carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of up to five years. Displaying a gun while committing drug trafficking or a violent crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. Possessing a sawed-off rifle or shotgun while committing drug trafficking or a violent crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Firing a gun while committing drug trafficking or a violent crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 10 years. When it comes to possession of a machine gun or destructive device while committing drug trafficking or a violent crime, a first offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years, while a second or subsequent conviction is punishable by a mandatory minimum life sentence.
Legal Defenses to Federal Gun Charges
There are multiple defenses to federal firearm charges. Our Chattanooga legal team can investigate your arrest, gather and assess evidence, and figure out the best defenses that apply to your case.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, a search is considered illegal if a police officer does not have consent, a warrant, or probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If a law enforcement official seizes a gun as part of an unlawful search, a lawyer can file a motion to have the gun excluded from evidence. Since the firearm in questions cannot be admitted into evidence, it is difficult for the federal court to prosecute the charge.
Another common defense is that the defendant did not “knowingly” commit the alleged crime. The prosecution must meet this element by proving the defendant acted “knowingly.” For example, a person must have known that the firearm was stolen in order to be convicted of possessing a stolen firearm. If the defendant had no idea that the seller stole the firearm, he/she cannot knowingly possess a stolen gun. If the federal prosecutor cannot prove that a defendant knowingly possessed a stolen gun, it is enough for the federal charge to be dismissed.
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Experience matters when you have been charged with a federal gun crime, which is why our firm is prepared to guide you through the complexities of the federal criminal court system. We provide all our clients with attentive and responsive legal services to keep them updated about their case on a consistent basis. Let us defend you from start to finish!
Federal drug charge lawyers are experienced in handling even the most complex federal drug cases. They are able to review information about the case and work to obtain the best possible results. In some instances, federal drug charge lawyers may be able to obtain a plea deal that will allow you to plead guilty to lesser charges, leading to reduced penalties.
If you are facing federal drug charges, contact the experienced federal drug charge lawyers at Best & Brock, PLLC to discuss the details of your case today.
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