Felon in Possession of a Weapon Laws

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Who Is Considered a Felon?

A person is considered a felon if they have been convicted of a crime, either violent or non-violent, that is punishable by a prison term of more than one year. The term felon or convicted felon can have different meanings depending on the state where the crime arose, but it often means that the person has been convicted of a felony and has now lost certain rights because of that conviction. In many states, a conviction is the result that arises from a finding of guilt or plea of guilt. Before a defendant intends to carry a firearm, the defendant must be aware whether the charge they were convicted of will allow them to carry a firearm and whether the crime that they pled guilty to or was guilty of resulted in a felony conviction.

What Are a Felon's Rights Regarding Possession of a Firearm?

If you have been convicted of a felony, under the federal law popularly known as the Brady Law and the laws of many states, you are not allowed to knowingly possess a gun. However, to be subject to that federal law, the gun must have also been transported across state lines sometime before it came into your possession.

Possession means more than just physically having a gun on your person. In addition to physical possession, the law prohibits felons from having constructive possession of guns. Constructive possession means, for example, a felon cannot have a gun in his house or car, even if he is not present at either location.

What Are the Penalties for a Convicted Felon Charged with Possession of Firearm?

The penalties for a felon being found in possession of a gun can be severe. Often, the crime itself is a felony, and, as with many other crimes, the more prior felony convictions a person has, the longer the prison sentence prosecutors will seek. Punishments for a possession of firearm may range from two years to ten years. If the defendant that is charged has some kind of criminal history, the resulting punishment can be heftier than the original punishment or felony.

Some states will enhance the punishment of the original conviction. Other states will not grant probation if the defendant violates the condition of not to carry a firearm while being labeled as a convicted felon.

What Is Defined as a Firearm?

A firearm is defined as any item that can be used as a weapon which can include gun, shotgun, and any firearm weapon. Antique or decorative firearms are not defined as firearms for the purpose of this charge. If a person is convicted of a felony offense and intends to possess any type of firearm and/or ammunition, the person should become familiar with their state's law of what is considered as a firearm since every state has their own distinct definition.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you have been charged with being a felon in possession of a gun, speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately. Good legal representation will be the best way you can challenge the charge and, if necessary, defend yourself in court.

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Last Modified: 11-10-2015 11:59 AM PST

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