Gun and Weapon Charges

Columbus Guns, Firearms, Weapon Charges Defense Lawyer

There are three firearms offenses and one guideline application that are commonly encountered in federal court.

First, the crime of being felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §922(g).

The elements of this offense are:

1. The person is a felon.

2. At the time the person was a felon, he was knowingly in possession of a firearm.

3. The firearm had previously affected interstate commerce.

4. Venue.

The State of Ohio has a counterpart to this statute—possession of a weapon under disability. The distinction between the two crimes is that a felon can violate Ohio law by possessing a firearm which had been manufactured in Ohio and never left the state. In contrast, to trigger the application of federal law, the firearm must have been manufactured outside of Ohio and at some time, found its way into the state. Being a felon in possession of a firearm carries a potential statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The second type of gun crime frequently seen in federal court would be a §924(c) offense.

Title 18 U.S.C. §924(c) codifies several crimes including:

1. Possessing a firearm in furtherance of either a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.

2. Using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to either a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.

Regardless of whether the crime triggers the “possession,” “use,” or “carry” prongs, the statutory penalty is a mandatory minimum of 5 years up to life in prison. If however, the firearm is “brandished,” the mandatory minimum penalty rises to 7 years and if the firearm is “discharged,” the minimum penalty is 10 years in prison.

A third commonly prosecuted gun crime in federal court is under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. §924(e).

This offense implicates the felon in possession of a firearm statute, but the statutory penalties are dramatically enhanced by the felon’s prior record. In order for this enhancement to apply, the defendant must have a least three prior felony convictions for either “violent crimes” or “serious drug offenses.” The phrase “violent crimes” is relatively straightforward but the phrase “serious drug offenses” necessarily means the prior conviction must carry a maximum sentence of 10 years or more. A person violating the ACCA faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison.

The final way in which guns are commonly implicated in federal cases is through a sentencing enhancement in drug cases called a “gun bump,” under USSG §2D1.1(b)(1). A gun bump results in a two-level enhancement to a person’s guideline range when a weapon is “present” in connection with a drug offense. Once this guideline enhancement is triggered, the burden shifts to the defendant to show it was “clearly improbable that the weapon was connected with the offense.” If the defendant does not shoulder his burden, his base offense level is enhanced by two levels. Finally, if there is an independent conviction for a §924(c) offense, this guideline application is not used.

Let Scott & Nolder Law Firm represent your interests in court. Call our Columbus law office at (614) 285-3059 to set up an initial consultation.

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