Federal 922 Prohibited Person Firearm Possession
The right to bear arms in the United States is not an absolute right. There are certain state and federal firearms laws in place that regulate the possession of a firearm and prohibit certain groups of people from possessing firearms. In order to legally possess a firearm, you must be a law-abiding citizen that does not fall into one of these groups or categories under federal law.
As such, if you fall into one of these federal firearms law categories and are caught possessing firearms, you can be charged with a crime under state or federal law. If you are facing a federal prohibited person firearm possession charge, it is important that you speak with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Unlike state law, crimes under federal law are prosecuted and investigated by the United States federal government, which has an unlimited amount of resources to secure a conviction.
The conviction rates for federal felony charges are significantly higher than state charges, and without an experienced attorney, you could be looking at harsh penalties. At Cannon & Associates, our criminal lawyers are highly experienced with federal law and have helped many clients fight against federal firearms law cases. Our founder and managing attorney, John Cannon, has represented the state in federal law cases, so he understands the tactics they will use against you to secure a conviction.
With our significant trial and negotiation experience, we want to do everything we can to ensure that you are not convicted by a federal court and that your future is not ruined by a criminal record.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
Federal Law on Possession of a Firearm
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the fundamental right to bear firearms. This right to bear arms has been continuously challenged, particularly in recent years, however it has been upheld by numerous Supreme Court decisions, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the laws of most U.S. states.
Like most rights provided under the constitution, however, the right to bear arms is not completely absolute. There have been many federal firearms laws put in place that limit the fundamental rights of a person to possess firearms and ammunition, particularly the Gun Control Act of 1968, (GCA) commonly known as 18 U.S.C. § 922. This act controls most federal firearms laws that regulate who can possess and distribute firearms.
Under this act, there are certain groups and categories of people that are prohibited from possessing firearms and that prohibit gun distributors from selling firearms to them. If a person knowingly possesses a firearm while prohibited from doing so under the Gun Control Act, they can be charged with a crime under federal law. The law enforcement agency that enforces the GCA is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Federal 922 Prohibited Person Firearm Possession
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, or 18 U.S.C. § 922, there are certain rules that prevent the sale to and possession of a firearm for ‘Prohibited Persons’. The list of prohibited people includes:
- Convicted felon – If a person has been convicted of a felony, whether state or federal, with a sentence of more than one year, such person cannot legally possess firearms.
- Drug users – If you are an unlawful user or are addicted to a controlled substance, you are prohibited from possessing firearms. A prosecutor may prove that you are a drug user by a positive drug test or recent drug possession convictions.
- Mental defective or committed to a mental institution – The law prohibits those who have been committed to a mental institution, are mentally ill, or in some way mentally defective from legal possession of a firearm.
- Fugitives – Those who have escaped criminal charges by moving to a different state or have escaped a prison sentence cannot possess a firearm.
- Domestic violence – If you have received a court order for domestic violence, which can include stalking, harassing, or threatening to use physical force against a partner or child, or you have been convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, you cannot possess a firearm.
- Alien – If you have renounced your U.S. citizenship or do not have legal citizenship in the U.S. you cannot possess a firearm.
- Discharged – Possession of a firearm is illegal if you have been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military.
If you are found in actual or constructive possession of a firearm or ammunition while you are a member of one or more of the above groups then you can be charged with illegal possession of a firearm under federal law. Federal firearms laws are strict, and being convicted of a prohibited person firearm possession charge can have serious consequences. As such, it is important that you contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney if facing illegal possession charges.
Can I Legally Possess Firearms If I’ve Been Convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime?
As provided for under 18 U.S.C. § 922, possession of a firearm is completely prohibited for a convicted felon that received a sentence for a crime punishable for more than one year. For many people in Oklahoma, this is a huge problem, as you may have been convicted of a felony charge a long time ago and feel like you have served your time for the crime. However, the law strictly states that if you possess a firearm or ammunition as a convicted felon you can be criminally charged under federal law.
When it comes to convictions for a misdemeanor crime, federal firearms law does not specifically prohibit possession of a firearm with a misdemeanor conviction. However, there are certain instances in which your misdemeanor crime conviction will prevent you from legally possessing a firearm in the future.
- Domestic violence – If you received a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction, you can no longer possess a firearm legally. The domestic violence conviction must involve the threat or use of physical force against a member of your family, which can include an intimate partner, child, or family member.
- Drug possession – Federal firearms law prohibits those who are addicted to or engage in the unlawful use of illegal drugs from possessing firearms. If you have received any recent misdemeanor convictions for drug possession or drug-related charges, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm under federal law.
If you are unsure about whether you are legally permitted to possess a firearm or ammunition under federal law, you should seek legal advice from an experienced federal lawyer. Being convicted of a federal crime can have serious, long-lasting consequences. Although many people feel like being a convicted felon or receiving a previous criminal conviction should not limit your constitutional rights, federal law strictly prohibits it. You could be looking at serious time in prison and massive fines if convicted of a crime under federal firearms law.
Penalties For a Federal 922 Conviction
As noted above, being convicted of a crime under federal firearms law can have serious consequences. The Gun Control Act is enforced by the United States federal government, and the penalties for a federal felony conviction are typically much more severe than those for a state criminal conviction. If you are convicted of illegal possession of a firearm as a ‘Prohibited Person’, you could be faced with:
- Up to 15 years in a United States federal prison, with an additional 3 years of probation or supervised release
- A 5-year probation period
- Fines of up to $1,000,000
In addition to the criminal penalties for a felony federal conviction, you will receive a permanent criminal federal record. Being a convicted felon can have serious consequences, and you may face difficulties down the line with finding employment, accessing education, applying for loans from financial institutions, and much more.
Defenses For Federal Firearms Law
For a federal prosecutor to prove a prohibited person firearm possession charge, they must demonstrate that you had actual or constructive possession of a firearm and that you are considered a ‘Prohibited Person’ under federal law. If they are unable to prove these two elements, then a judge and jury cannot convict you of the alleged crime.
As such, to fight against these charges, your lawyer must prove that you did not actually commit the crime you are accused of under federal law, which can involve disproving the prosecution’s belief that you meet these requirements. They may be able to successfully defend these charges with the following defenses:
- You did not have constructive or actual possession – Your lawyer may argue that you did not actually or constructively possess the firearm because it was not knowingly in your possession, it was not your firearm, police officers conducted an illegal search of your property, or you did not have actual control of the firearm.
- You are not a prohibited person – Depending on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer may also argue that you are not actually a prohibited person under federal law. For example, if the prosecution tries to argue that your previous marijuana possession conviction prohibits you from possessing firearms, your lawyer may argue that you no longer use marijuana or you use it for medicinal purposes. Similarly, if they argue that you are a convicted felon, however, your sentence was less than one year, your lawyer may use this as a defense to get your case thrown out.
The only way to prevent a federal conviction or to minimize the penalties that you receive for a conviction is to have a strong criminal defense for the charges. Building a defense without knowledge of federal criminal law can be extremely difficult, which is why we recommend contacting an experienced federal defense lawyer.
A good federal defense attorney will listen to your situation, investigate the case, and build up a strong criminal defense based on the evidence and their knowledge of the law. This defense will then be used to negotiate a fair plea bargain on your behalf or get your charges thrown out completely.
Do I Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
The federal law legal system differs substantially from the state criminal law system. Crimes under 18 U.S.C. § 922 and the federal law system are prosecuted by the United States Government, as opposed to local state agencies. Because of the severity of these crimes and the harsh punishments attached to a conviction, there is often a lot of effort and time put into a criminal investigation and prosecution.
Typically, bodies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) have a significant amount of resources to secure a conviction against someone charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. As such, these investigative agencies will usually do everything in their power to ensure that you are convicted of a crime and they will use whatever tactics necessary and available. Without the backing of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, it can be extremely difficult to come up against charges under federal law.
A federal criminal defense attorney will use their knowledge and understanding of federal law to help ensure that you understand the severity of the charges you are facing. They will then negotiate with the prosecutor to arrange a plea bargain on your behalf. Most federal prosecutors want to avoid going to trial, which is why they will try to negotiate a plea bargain with the defendant. An experienced attorney who understands the law will be able to arrange a plea bargain that ensures you do not face serious consequences or gets your case thrown out completely.
In the event that you want to go to trial, your federal defense lawyer will build a strong criminal defense on your behalf and fight aggressively in court to ensure that you are not convicted by a jury of illegal possession of a firearm. The lawyers at Cannon & Associates have significant trial experience and have helped many clients fight against federal arms charges. We understand the complexities of federal law and we will do everything in our power to secure a favorable outcome for your case.
Contact Cannon & Associates Today
Federal firearms laws can often be quite confusing for citizens of Oklahoma. In many cases, people believe that they are legally entitled to possess a firearm because the United States Constitution guarantees them the right to do so. Many of our clients who were unaware of the law got charged by a law enforcement officer for possessing a firearm because of a previous drug possession conviction, or because they were previously committed to a mental institution for an illness they have recovered from.
However, it is important to be aware that being convicted of illegal possession of a firearm as a prohibited person can have serious, life-long consequences. If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to possess a firearm, or if you have been charged with a federal 922 firearm possession charge, you should contact a federal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Cannon & Associates, our lawyers are ready to help you fight against federal criminal charges for illegal possession, and we want to be your Fierce Advocates at all stages of your case. Our lawyers have a deep understanding of federal rules and regulations, and we are highly skilled negotiators that know how to work the system. When facing such serious charges, it is vital that you have a strong lawyer to represent your case.
The lawyers at Cannon & Associates have what it takes to get the best possible outcome for your prohibited person federal firearm possession case.
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