According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data gathering, data research, and data distribution organization at Syracuse University, United States Department of Justice (DOJ) data shows that the 6,002 federal weapons convictions in Fiscal Year 2015 were down 34.8 percent from the 9,206 reported in 2005, but up 51.6 percent from the 3,958 reported in 1995.
The United States federal government has passed several laws relating to the regulation of firearms and other weapons, and violations of such laws carry very steep penalties.
Judges may not impose prison terms that are lower than the federal mandatory minimum sentences required for certain kinds of criminal offenses. It is important to keep in mind that federal prosecutors often have far greater resources at their disposal than their state counterparts.
Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation for a federal weapons offense anywhere in Utah? Make sure to exercise your right to remain silent until you have the opportunity to contact Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Salt Lake City defend clients in communities all over Salt Lake County, such as Taylorsville, Copperton Township, Herriman, Holladay, Kearns, Magna, Midvale, Millcreek, Riverton, and many others.
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Salt Lake County Federal Weapons Crimes Information Center
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One of the most common federal weapons offenses is the crime of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person. TRAC reported that violations of Title 18 U.S.C. § 922 were the most frequently recorded lead charge in 2015, 2014, 2010, 2005, and 1995.
Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), it is illegal for a person to possess a firearm or ammunition if he or she:
Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) also makes it illegal for a person to possess a firearm or ammunition if he or she is subject to a court order that:
Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(n) it is also unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
Violations of Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(n) are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
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Other federal laws may be the basis for certain kinds of weapon crimes that allegedly occurred on federal property or involved federal agencies. Some weapons offenses may have involved crimes committed in multiple states or weapons crossing state lines.
Convictions for the following federal weapons offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000:
A conviction for possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone under Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(A) is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sale, delivery, or transfer of a handgun or ammunition to a juvenile under Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(b) and Title 18 U.S.C. § 922(x) is also punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000
For a juvenile offender, the maximum sentence is ten years in prison if the offender had reason to believe the juvenile would commit a crime of violence with the gun or ammunition.
Convictions for possession or use of a firearm in relation to or furtherance of any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime under Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) are punishable by a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but the mandatory minimum becomes seven years in prison if the firearm was brandished.
If the firearm in relation to or furtherance of any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime was discharged or the firearm possessed was a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, then a conviction is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison. If the firearm possessed is a machinegun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, a conviction is punishable by a minimum of 30 years in prison.
When alleged offenders have been previously convicted of Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) offenses, second or subsequent convictions are punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison. Repeat offenses involving a firearm that is a machinegun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, are punishable by life in prison.
While the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA) under Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) imposes a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for an alleged offender who possesses a gun or ammunition and also has three prior convictions for drug trafficking or violent felony offenses, the United States Supreme Court held in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) that imposing an increased sentence under ACCA’s residual clause—the "otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another" section of the statutory definition of a violent felony—violates due process.
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Utah Federal Weapons Crimes Resources
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) — The ATF is the federal DOJ agency that investigates and prevents federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives. On this website, you can learn more about rules and regulations, Federal Register (the official journal of the United States government, containing government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices) actions, recent rulings. You can also view a list of persons wanted by the ATF as the result of ATF criminal investigations.
Gun Mandatory Minimum Sentences —Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) "has worked to eliminate mandatory sentencing laws and promote sentencing policies rooted in the fundamental American values of individualized justice, fairness, proportionality, and respect for liberty and due process" since 1991. Visit this section of the FAMM website to learn more about the “stacking” problem inherent to violations of Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). One FAMM solution calls for the creation of a safety valve that allows judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum if doing so will not endanger the public.
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If you believe you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for any federal weapons offense in Utah, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP represents individuals in Wasatch County, Davis County, Morgan County, Summit County, Tooele County, and Utah County.
Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys can fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (801) 532-5297 or complete an online contact form to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
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