Possession of a Firearm by a convicted felon is a very serious crime that can either be prosecuted the Office of the State Attorney or by the U. S. Attorney’s Office. Often times, the federal government will prosecute the charge as the federal sentencing guidelines are much harsher than the state sentencing guidelines.
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9] federal law prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms, ammunition, or explosives.
Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1-9) prohibits the following from possessing, shipping/transporting, or receiving any firearm or ammunition:
- a person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year;
- a person who is a fugitive from justice;
- a person who is an unlawful user of or who is addicted to a controlled substance;
- a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been admitted to a mental institution;
- an alien who is unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;
- a person who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- a person who, having been a citizen of the United States, renounces his citizenship;
- a person subject to a court order that was issued after a hearing in which the person participated, which order restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or partner’s child, and which order includes a finding that the person is a credible threat to such partner or partner’s child, or by its terms prohibits the use, attempted use or threatened use of such force against such partner or partner’s child;
- a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
The offense level under this guideline is determined principally by the type of firearm in question, the defendant’s prior convictions for violent felonies or drug-related felonies, and the defendant’s status as a person prohibited by law from possessing firearms. Generally the penalty for violating this law is up to ten years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine.
There are numerous enhancements to the sentencing structure depending on the defendant and the firearm possessed.
18 U.S.C. § 924(e) – Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA)
This sentencing enhancement imposes a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence of
imprisonment (and a life maximum) for section 922(g) violators who have three previous
convictions for a violent felony or serious drug offense, committed on occasions different
from one another.
“Violent felony” means any crime punishable by imprisonment for more
than one year, that
(1) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force
(2) or is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves the use of explosives, or involves
other conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to
“Serious drug offense” is defined as either certain federal drug offenses with a statutory
maximum of ten years or more imprisonment, or state offenses involving manufacturing,
distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, with a statutory
maximum of ten years or more imprisonment.
The definition of the term “violent felony” for purposes of the ACCA has been the
subject of an ongoing series of Supreme Court cases, in addition to numerous cases in the
lower federal courts. The volume of case law on this issue results primarily from the very
general language of the statute and the variety of different state laws to which it must be
applied. Although an exhaustive treatment of this issue is beyond the scope of this primer,
this section will describe the major Supreme Court cases on the issue and in so doing
sketch the general contours of the question.
For more information on Federal Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon charges call Fort Lauderdale Federal Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel directly at 954-383-3000.