What Are The Most Common Types Of Federal Weapons Charges?
There are three main types of federal weapons charges. The first involve the nature of the weapon itself. Certain weapons, including machine guns, short-barreled rifles, and automatic weapons, are illegal to possess by themselves unless the person has a tax stamp and has gone through the proper licensing procedure. Suppressors or silencers are other examples of items that are illegal because of the status of the weapons themselves.
The second type of federal weapons offense applies when a weapon is used to do certain things. For example, weapons charges are frequently seen in conjunction with drug and narcotics charges. It is illegal to use a weapon in conjunction with a drug crime or a crime of violence. If someone is indicted with distributing drugs, and also used or possesses a weapon, they will be charged with a 924(c) count (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)), which is an enhancement for using a weapon in the commission of a drug crime. This charge carries a flat five-year prison term that is served mandatorily consecutive to the underlying drug felony. For example, a person who is convicted of possession with intent to distribute meth and a 924(c) count would serve a five-year sentence for the 924(c), plus whatever sentence the judge delivers for the possession with intent to distribute meth charge.
The third type of federal weapons charge applies when possession of a weapon is illegal due to the person’s status. For example, a convicted felon who has not had his gun rights restored cannot possess a weapon. Possessing a weapon as a convicted felon is the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm. It doesn’t sound like a serious crime, but Federal prosecutors take it very seriously, and the sentencing is far greater than one would think it would be under normal circumstances. It is also illegal to engage in certain firearms transactions without the proper license. For instance, a person cannot sell guns unless they have a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
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