Weapons Charges

Federal Weapons Crimes –  18 U.S. Code § 924(c)

This has to do with gun charges as it relates to drug cases and the mandatory minimum sentences that can be tacked on.  For example, five extra years can be tacked on the back of a federal criminal sentence if you use a gun during the movement of drugs in a federal case. 

So, weapons charges in federal cases are very serious.  Not just in drug cases, but in other cases as well.  The bottom line is, when somebody owns, uses or possesses a weapon during a federal crime, that makes them much more dangerous and likely to cause some sort of harm to the public or anyone else involved with a federal criminal case.

So, when it comes to drugs, the feds will usually charge this 18 U.S. Code § 924(c) if the person has a gun or more than one gun, especially if they're moving drugs at the same time or if they're possessing drugs in their house and a business and they also have guns available.  The key is having the gun available to use against someone related to those drugs.  That makes a person much more dangerous when it comes to these federal drug cases

Legal Penalties

A weapon charge is more serious than most people think especially if it is in conjunction with another federal crime. This will likely mean mandatory jail time or a substantial amount of time added to your sentence, even if the weapon is properly registered.

Weapon charges are insistently pursued by Federal law officials and may qualify as felony or serious misdemeanor offenses and can result in serious criminal penalties (large fines and prison time). The legal penalties for a federal weapon charge depends on a number of factors such as prior criminal history, the type of weapon in possession, whether the weapon was used during the commission of a crime, and whether bodily injury was caused in connection with the charge.

Possession of a Firearm

Most common weapon charge is possession of a firearm. Federal laws restrict who can own, possess, or sell a gun and those that are not restricted must have their weapon registered to them. There is an absolute restriction to own or possess a gun if you:

  • Were convicted of a crime punishable by being in prison for more than a year
  • Are a fugitive from justice
  • Are addicted to or illegally use any controlled substance
  • Have been ruled mentally defective by the court or have been committed to mental institute
  • Are an illegal alien living in the U.S.
  • Renounced your U.S. citizenship (if you are a citizen)
  • Are subject to a court restraining order involving your intimate partner, your partner's child, or children
  • Were convicted of domestic violence in any court of a misdemeanor

A significant number of illegal weapons possessions charges result from illegal searches and other violations of individual's rights. A weapons violation can become very complicated and the type and severity of the charges one can face has a connection to personal circumstances (i.e. where you were, whether the gun was loaded, whether it was concealed). A weapons charge derives not only from a possession/ownership of a firearm but also from items such as stiletto, ballistic knife, switch blade, any double edged bladed knife, a slingshot, brass knuckles, etc.

How Will Prosecutors Deal with Gun Charges?

This is a severe political issue.  The assault rifle ban went into effect in 1994 and then lasted for ten years.  However, that ban has since been lifted and no longer exists.  The President of the United States is discussing a new ban on assault rifles and possibly other guns.

If you or a loved one is caught with a gun and you're being charged at the federal level, you want to get an attorney with experience dealing with the feds regarding gun charges.  One area in which I see many gun charges filed relates to drugs, trafficking, and guns.

How Will Prosecutors Deal with Gun Charges?

If you get caught trafficking a certain amount of narcotics, depending on what kind of narcotics, and you're also using a gun to protect those narcotics, you'll not only be facing a 10-year mandatory minimum for the drug charge, you'll also be facing an additional 5-year mandatory minimum related to having a gun with the drugs.

The feds are also prosecuting people at a record number for gun charges, so you need to find an attorney who can try to take you out of the matrix that puts you in a scenario where you're being swept up with the other people who are doing bad things with guns that the feds are aimed at targeting and taking out.  If you fall into this matrix, you will be treated much more harshly than you would when gun laws were not so political.

So, what you need to do is get an attorney who has experience dealing with these cases.  I've traveled all over the nation handling these cases – whether they be gun charges or related offenses.

We must first sit down and decide what our plan of attack will be.  Are we going to fight the case, or will we try to work out a resolution usually determined by the strength of the prosecutor's evidence. If they've got a strong case against you, and you don't have any motions to knock it out, we will want to try to find a resolution and negotiate with them.

If, on the other hand, you're innocent or they have a weak case against you, we may take another approach, depending on available evidence and what the best strategy is moving forward. 

Once we have that dialed in, we will start looking at what we can do – whether it be with the investigation, motion work, or gathering character letters to assemble a mitigation package. We're going to figure out the best angle to help you.

Reviewing Legal Options With Experienced Lawyers

So, if you're charged with a weapons offense, obviously we want to make sure it's a legitimate charge.  Just having a weapon in your home is not even a crime.  But if you have a weapon with drugs in your home that could turn into a crime depending on the circumstances. 

If you're using a weapon in conjunction with committing a federal crime, this is where the feds will get involved as far as adding an extra charge or enhancement against you related to your federal offense.

What I do is I get the client in.  We talk about the circumstances involved in the gun or the weapon.  We talk about how Section 924(c) works.  We talk about what the circumstances were of this gun being found — whether the gun was registered; whether the gun was part of any potential crime related to your case and what can be done to try and keep the harsh penalties related to the gun out of your case, get your matter resolved as quick as possible and get it resolved in a favorable manner to you if you're charged with possession or use of a gun related to a federal charge.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a weapons violation, it is crucial and imperative that you choose a skilled, experienced, and persistent criminal defense attorney to challenge all the incriminating evidence against you. Call the federal criminal defense lawyers at the Hedding Law Firm to your case.

Defending Federal Gun Cases

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about Federal Criminal Defense issues in Los Angeles and Encino California. We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Hedding Law Firm
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