A large percentage of weapons offenses in California are state crimes investigated by local law enforcement and prosecuted in state court, but certain weapons crimes can result in federal weapons charges, which are prosecuted in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Federal weapons charges carry harsh penalties, some with mandatory minimum prison sentences, and if you are found guilty of a federal weapons offense, you could end up serving between five and 10 years in prison or possibly even a life sentence, depending on the specific details of your case. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our team of practiced defense attorneys has a reputation for a capable and competent criminal defense that is backed by thousands of satisfied clients, and we are eager to put our expertise to work for you in your weapons case. If you or a loved one has been charged with a federal weapons offense in California, or if you are under investigation for a weapons-related crime, contact our firm today to schedule a free initial consultation and weapons offense case evaluation.
Affordable Federal Weapons Offense Attorney
Federal weapons offenses are extremely serious crimes and federal sentencing for weapons charges is a complicated matter requiring the skill and practical knowledge of a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney. Any time you are facing charges for a weapons crime in federal court, it is imperative that you enlist the help of an attorney who is familiar with federal criminal law, the federal criminal court process and the federal sentencing guidelines, and can ensure that you fully understand the options available to you under the law. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, Daniel R. Perlman and his team of reputable defense lawyers have experience defending clients against all types of weapons charges, and as a former prosecutor himself, attorney Daniel Perlman knows what it takes to be successful in fighting these charges.
The primary goal of any criminal defense approach is to help the defendant protect his or her freedom and avoid life-changing criminal penalties, and that is what our attorneys can do for you. Daniel Perlman is a respected trial attorney who knows the law and has time and time again proven his proficiency in the area of criminal defense. Our attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Pro represent clients accused of violating both state and federal weapons laws in Los Angeles, California and throughout the United States, and we will go the extra mile to defend you against the weapons charges you are faced with, regardless of the circumstances of your case. By hiring our federal criminal defense lawyers at the beginning stages of your criminal case, you can ensure that your defense is as strong as possible based on your specific weapons charges.
What are Weapons Offenses?
Weapons offenses are violations of statutes that regulate deadly weapons, such as firearms, which the federal government defines as “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or any destructive device.” Federal law regulates the purchase, sale, possession, manufacture, import and distribution of firearms, prohibits the sale of firearms to certain restricted classes of people, including convicted felons, and bans certain firearms altogether, such as semiautomatic assault weapons and machine guns.
There are a number of different types of weapons charges that can be prosecuted in federal court, including unlawful possession, firearms trafficking, fraud and “violent crimes,” or federal crimes involving the unlawful use of a firearm. The most common type of federal weapons charge involves defendants who have prior felony convictions and are therefore not legally allowed to possess any type of firearm. Federal weapons offenses are governed by Title 18 of the United States Code, of which there are several different sections dealing with crimes that involve firearms and other deadly weapons, such as the following:
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) – Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Prohibited Person
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(d) – Knowingly Sell, Give or Otherwise Dispose of any Firearm or Ammunition to a Prohibited Person
- 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A) – False Statement on a Record of a Gun Purchase
- 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) – Use, Carry or Possess a Firearm in Relation to or in Furtherance of a Drug Felony or a Federal Crime of Violence
- 18 U.S.C. § 842(h), 922(i), (j) and (u) – Stolen Firearm, Ammunition or Explosive
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(A) – Firearm in a School Zone
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(k), (o) and (v); 26 U.S.C. § 5861 – Knowingly Possess or Manufacture an Illegal Firearm
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(b) and (x)(1) – Sell, Deliver or Transfer a Firearm to a Juvenile
- 18 U.S.C. § 923 – Importing, Manufacturing, or Dealing Firearms Without a License
- 18 U.S.C. § 36 – Drive-By Shooting
Criminal Penalties Associated with Weapons Offenses
Weapons charges in California can be investigated and prosecuted at the state or federal level, and federal charges typically arise in cases where firearms are illegally manufactured, transported across state lines or used to commit a federal crime, or in other cases involving a violation of federal law. The criminal penalties levied against individuals who violate federal weapons laws vary based on the specific offense, the presence of any aggravating factors and the defendant’s criminal record. For instance, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g) “Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Prohibited Person” is a Class C felony punishable by a maximum fine of $250,000 and a federal prison sentence of up to 10 years, but if the defendant has a prior conviction for a felony drug crime or violent crime, he or she could face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
A violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c) “Use, Carry or Possess a Firearm in Relation to or in Furtherance of a Drug Felony or Federal Crime of Violence,” on the other hand, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a potential sentence of up to life imprisonment, without parole, or death if death results from the use of the firearm. The federal sentencing guidelines establish more severe penalties for certain weapons crimes depending on the type of firearm involved in the crime, the existence of any prior convictions and whether any other crimes were committed. In Los Angeles, weapons offenses are commonly charged in connection with drug crimes like drug trafficking or violent crimes like assault, which can result in significantly increased penalties upon conviction.
Defending Against Weapons Charges
Federal weapons crimes are investigated by highly skilled federal agencies, like the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which have the time and resources necessary to aggressively pursue criminal charges against defendants suspected of violating federal weapons laws, and these types of cases are prosecuted by expert lawyers representing the U.S. Attorney’s office. Needless to say, firearms charges and other weapons charges can be difficult to beat, but that doesn’t mean your federal weapons case is hopeless. On the contrary, a seasoned, trial-tested criminal defense attorney can successfully defend you against federal weapons charges by challenging the prosecution’s evidence and holding the government to its burden of proof. In federal criminal cases, the prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof possible in criminal court. In the case of federal charges involving possession of a firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person (18 U.S. Code § 922(g)), for example, that means proving that you are guilty of each of the following elements of the crime:
- You possessed or received a firearm or ammunition;
- You are a convicted felon, fugitive from justice, unlawful drug user or drug addict, alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States, dishonorably discharged servicemember, person who has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship, person who is subject to a domestic restraining order, person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, or person who has been adjudicated as mentally “defective” or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution; and
- You transported the firearm or ammunition across state lines at any time.
Defense Strategies for Federal Weapons Offenses
The key to beating federal weapons charges and clearing your name is to prevent the prosecution from proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which your attorney can achieve by presenting evidence that challenges the prosecution’s version of events and raises doubt in the minds of the judge and jury. At Federal Criminal Defense Pro, our attorneys will carefully review the government’s evidence against you in order to determine the strongest possible defense approach that applies to your case. For instance, if you are facing charges for illegal possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 922(g), the following defenses could be used to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you:
- The evidence against you was obtained as a result of an illegal search
- The arresting officer did not have probable cause to carry out the arrest
- You do not fall into any of the restricted categories laid out by the federal statute
- The prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- You were not previously convicted of a felony
- The firearm did not travel in interstate or foreign commerce
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Your right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (though the state of California does not explicitly guarantee an individual this right), but there are certain situations in which your right to own a firearm is forfeited, including if you have a felony conviction on your criminal record or you are an unlawful user of or addict to a controlled substance. Even with your right to own a gun firmly intact, there are still restrictions on the purchase and registration of firearms with which you are required to comply, and if you fail to do so, you could find yourself in violation of state or federal firearms laws. Being accused of a federal weapons crime is an extremely serious situation to find yourself in, but no matter how tense and frightened you may feel, it is important to act quickly to set yourself up for success from the start, and that includes hiring an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer as early as possible to represent your case.
When you hire Federal Criminal Defense Pro to defend your criminal case, our trial-tested defense attorneys will evaluate the facts of your case, conduct a thorough investigation into the charges against you and ensure that your rights are protected from the very beginning of your case. We will also deal with the federal authorities on your behalf, negotiate with the prosecution and, if your case goes to trial, aggressively fight the weapons charges in federal court. It is our primary goal to skillfully and effectively challenge the prosecution’s case, especially if the charges you are facing call for a harsh mandatory minimum sentence, to keep you from spending years in prison. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, our defense attorneys may still be able to negotiate with the prosecution to secure a reduction in charges or penalties as part of a plea agreement.
Consult Our Federal Weapons Offense Lawyers Today
All states and the federal government have laws in place that restrict the possession, carrying, use, manufacture, sale, import, export, and trafficking of firearms and other deadly weapons, and the mandatory minimum penalties associated with many federal weapons offenses in the United States subject convicted offenders to exceptionally long prison sentences. If you have been charged with a weapons-related offense in violation of federal firearms laws, your rights, your freedom, and your future could be at risk. Consult attorney Daniel R. Perlman and his team of knowledgeable defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Pro today to find out how we can help you beat your federal weapons charges.