Federal firearms laws are very strict and carry very serious penalties. As a result, it is important that if you are charged you consult with a DC federal gun lawyer as soon as possible to begin going over the evidence and building a defense. Federal charges have the potential to impact the rest of your life, making it imperative an experienced federal attorney is involved as early in the process as possible. To discuss your case and what steps you can take, call and schedule a consultation today.
There are several ways that federal gun charges occur. One is when a person who has a prior felony conviction is accused of being in possession of a firearm. It is a discretionary decision on the part of the prosecutors whether to charge the gun possession in state or federal court. It also depends on the type of firearms that are discovered, the length or number of criminal convictions a person might have, variances in the type of conviction, and whether there was any violence involved in relation to the incident.
Another way gun charges can be brought in a federal court is under 18 United States Code 924(c) which involves incidents where someone is accused of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence or drug trafficking offense, brandishing a firearm, or shooting a firearm while committing another felony. These charges carry mandatory minimum sentences of varying lengths. Possession in furtherance of a crime of violence or drug trafficking offense carries a mandatory sentence of five years. Brandishing a firearm carries a mandatory seven years, and shooting a firearm carries a mandatory 10 year sentence making consulting with a DC federal gun lawyer even more imperative.
Possession in federal gun cases works in the same way in the District of Columbia. The possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession would arise where you are accused of having a gun on your person. In order to prove constructive possession, the prosecutor must present evidence that although the gun was not on your person, you had the knowledge, intent, and power to exercise control over the gun. For example, someone is found to have posted their picture on Facebook firing an assault rifle. That can be used as evidence to show that the person actually possessed the weapon. There are many ways to prove actual or constructive possession. It is not only through witnesses. Emails, text messages, records of phone calls, and purchase records might be used. A federal gun attorney in DC must consider the many different ways that the government will try to prove actual or constructive possession.
The typical context in which a conspiracy to violate federal gun laws occurs is when someone is involved in multiple purchases of firearms or sales of firearms to people who are not supposed to have them. This is called a straw purchase, where a person without a criminal record goes to a store that sells firearms in Virginia for example, purchases a firearm legally, fills out the required federal paperwork and then sells that firearm to someone who is not supposed to have it. That person may be someone with a criminal record, someone living in an area where they are not allowed to have a gun, or someone with a domestic violence conviction who is not allowed to have a firearm for a certain period of time.
Though federal and state governments have little control over the underground gun trade, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) strictly monitors legal gun sales. Violations of dealer record-keeping requirements and other associated statutes by firearms dealers (18 U.S.C. Section 922 (a)(11)) are still common at gun shows and through individual firearms sales. Those who are suspected of record-keeping violations are investigated primarily by the ATF, which also works in tandem with the FBI, local law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security. Often, gun show vendors are accused of violating sales records laws in the following ways:
Federally, there are very strict regulations prohibiting the purchase and the transfer of automatic weapons, of weapons that had a serial number filed off of them, of having a silencer or a compressor of a weapon. Therefore if someone is charged with any of these offenses it is important to take that charge seriously and consult with a DC federal gun lawyer as soon as possible.
That depends on what law enforcement found in the area at the time. If law enforcement is investigating someone who is engaging in multiple straw purchases of firearms it is probably less likely to see another charge accompanying it because the purchase of firearms is the focus of the investigation.
Sometimes the focus of the investigation is drugs and a search warrant is executed. Drugs and firearms may also be found during the search. It is likely that there will be a drug charge. Another example is when a house is being searched for child pornography and guns are found. The question is what is uncovered when there is a search.
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