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Penalties for Unlawful Gun Possession in DC

Penalties for unlawful gun possession in DC depend on the specific type of crime that is being charged. The most common felony-level firearms possession charges can carry a maximum penalty of five years of prison time. A professional firearm possession attorney could help you fight the consequences you may be facing.

Classifying Common Firearm Offenses

Carrying a pistol outside of a home or place of business is a felony charge that can carry a maximum of five years of prison time, a maximum fine of $12,500 or both.

When a person is charged with possession of a firearm and they have a prior felony conviction on their record, that person faces a maximum penalty of ten years of prison time, a maximum fine of $12,000 or both. The associated mandatory minimum prison sentence is one year.

If a person is charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, they could face a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a maximum possible fine of $2,500 or both. That is considered one of the misdemeanor firearm charges and as such, it carries lighter penalties than carrying of a pistol outside of a home or business.

Gun Laws for Possession vs. the Distribution of Firearms

Laws and penalties for unlawful gun possession in DC are very strict when it relates to the sale or other kinds of distribution of firearms. Law enforcement officers in DC investigate charge, and convict people they suspect are involved in the sale or distribution of firearms.

What Gun Cases Do Officers Typically Investigate?

The DC police also actively investigate and make arrests of individuals who are believed to be illegally in possession of firearms. This could include someone who has no necessary criminal motive, meaning, they do not plan on using their firearms to engage in gang violence, drug violence, or drug distribution.

Police still make arrests in those cases and prosecutors frequently prosecute those cases very aggressively. Even though a person is aware that laws in DC are different and potentially stricter than their home state, that is not considered to be a defense to the crime of illegally carrying a pistol or possession of unregistered firearms. There may be other defenses to those cases; however, not being aware of the law is not one of them.

What are Commonly Deemed Designated Gun-Free Zones?

The most commonly known gun-free zones are areas around schools. Possession of firearms in gun-free zones can increase the penalties for unlawful gun possession in DC.

Other examples of gun-free zones include daycare centers, universities, public swimming pools, arcades, public libraries, as well as in and around public housing.

Conviction in Gun-Free Zone Possession Cases

If a person is convicted of possession of a firearm within a gun-free zone, that results in the maximum penalty for the underlying crime being doubled. That means that a person could be punished by a fine up to twice that of what is otherwise allowed and a prison term of up to twice of what is otherwise allowed.

That does not apply to persons who are legally licensed to carry firearms or if a person lives or works within one thousand feet of a gun-free zone. It also does not apply to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force or other military officers who are legally allowed to carry those kinds of weapons.

Possession of a firearm within one thousand feet of a gun-free zone doubles the possible maximum penalty that person would otherwise face for that offense. That means the potential fine doubles and the potential prison sentence also doubles.

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