The federal penal code has numerous laws relating to firearms. 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) sets out who cannot lawfully possess a firearm. The federal penal code makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a felony punishable by more than one year to be in possession of a firearm. The code further makes it unlawful for a person who is subject to a restraining order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or person, or engaging in conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child. A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor family violence crime may not possess a firearm.
When pursuing an illegal possession of a firearm case, the government must prove several things. First, it must prove that the person has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor for family violence. Texas does not consider a deferred pleading of guilty to a felony as a conviction for purposes of a felon in possession charge. This means that the government would not be able to use a deferred pleading of guilty to satisfy the felony conviction element of the illegal possession of a firearm charge because there was no final conviction for purposes of the statute. This also applies to the misdemeanor family violence charge. If the person enters a deferred plea of guilty for a misdemeanor family violence charge, this is not considered a final guilty conviction for the illegal possession of a firearm statute.
Second, the government has to prove that the person knowingly possessed a firearm. If a defendant can show that he or she did not knowingly possess a firearm, he there is a chance of defeating a felon in possession charge. For instance, if the firearm was found in the trunk of a car, if the person can prove that it was not his or her car, and had no knowledge of the gun, this could be evidence in favor of that person.
There is one statutory exception to the federal illegal possession of a firearm restriction. That exception is if the person has had their civil rights restored by the state where the conviction occurred. 18 U.S.C. §921(a)(20) states that “any conviction that has been expunged, or set aside or for which a person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored shall not be considered a conviction for purposes of this chapter, unless such pardon expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly [or implicitly as a matter of state law] provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.”
The punishment for illegally possessing a firearm can be up to ten years imprisonment, and/or a fine. Oftentimes, a felon in possession charge accompanies other criminal charges, and it can be used to enhance the punishment of certain crimes. Also, since the person already has a criminal record, the punishment can be higher than other offenses. Illegally possessing a firearm is a very serious charge. You should consult a federal criminal lawyer Arlington TX trusts to discuss your options.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into firearms crimes.