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Federal Law: Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Eisenhauer Law Dec. 28, 2023

We understand that being accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm can be an overwhelming and life-altering situation. The legal process can seem daunting, and you may feel like you're facing these charges alone. However, it's important to remember that you have rights, and with the right legal guidance, you can navigate this challenging time. 

Understanding Felon in Possession of a Firearm Charges 

Being charged as a felon in possession of a firearm is a serious offense under federal law. Essentially, this charge applies to individuals who have been previously convicted of a felony and are found to be in possession of a firearm. Despite the laws in your state, if you've been convicted of a felony, possessing a firearm is considered illegal at the federal level. 

Federal Laws and Consequences 

These charges are governed by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibits individuals convicted of a felony from owning firearms.

Some laws that may come into play based on your specific situation include:  

  • Federal Gun Ban Following a Conviction: Federal law makes it illegal for certain individuals, referred to as "prohibited persons," to possess firearms and ammunition. This group includes those who have been convicted of nearly all felonies and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. A conviction typically results in a lifetime ban. The ban applies to crimes punishable by more than one year's imprisonment, regardless of how much time a person actually spends behind bars. The ban covers nearly all felony convictions, whether the conviction occurs in state or federal court. 

  • Misdemeanor Conviction of Domestic Violence: The federal ban on firearms also applies to certain misdemeanor convictions. To fall under the ban, the misdemeanor must involve a crime of domestic violence committed by a current or former spouse or dating partner, a person who shares a child with the victim, a current or former parent or guardian of the victim, a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, or a person who lives or has lived with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian. 

  • State Gun Bans Following a Conviction: State law often overlaps with or expands on the federal ban. Even if a conviction doesn't trigger the federal ban, it could trigger a state law prohibition. Some states use a broader definition of "misdemeanor domestic violence crimes" that includes roommates or any family member. Other states apply the ban to any misdemeanor assault, battery, or stalking and not just those committed against someone in a domestic relationship. 

  • Restoration of Gun Rights: Restoration of gun rights can be a tricky area. Federal law allows for the restoration of gun possession rights if the person received a pardon, had civil rights restored, or had the conviction expunged or set aside. However, states can limit these federal restoration rights by placing restrictions in state law on the effect of an expungement, set aside, or pardon. 

Violation of this act can result in severe penalties, including significant fines and potentially lengthy prison sentences. The severity of these penalties often depends on the nature of the felony conviction, the individual's prior criminal history, and the specific circumstances of the firearm possession. Specifically, the consequences include:

  • The possibility of a lifetime ban for those convicted of nearly all felonies and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence 

  • A potential sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for unlawful possession of a firearm 

  • The law applies to crimes punishable by more than one year's imprisonment, regardless of how much time a person actually spends behind bars 

  • The ban covers nearly all felony convictions, whether the conviction occurs in state or federal court.` 

Potential Defenses 

Facing these charges doesn't mean you're without options. Several potential defenses could be utilized, depending on your case's specifics. These include:

  • Challenging the legality of the search and seizure that led to the discovery of the firearm. 

  • Disputing the ownership of the firearm. 

  • Arguing that you were unaware of the firearm's presence. 

  • Asserting misidentification in a murder second-degree case. 

  • Claiming false allegations in a statutory rape and child molestation case. 

  • Asserting self-defense in an unlawful use of a weapon case. 

  • Arguing against the possibility of being passed out if using PCP in a possession case. 

Consequences of a Conviction 

A conviction can lead to far-reaching consequences beyond immediate court-imposed penalties. Some of these consequences include: 

  • Loss of certain civil rights, including the right to vote and future firearm possession. 

  • Difficulty in holding specific professional licenses due to a felony conviction. 

  • Significant impact on employment prospects due to criminal record. 

  • Housing opportunities may be limited due to background checks revealing a felony conviction. 

  • Personal relationships can be strained due to the stigma of a felony conviction. 

Importance of Experienced Legal Representation 

Having an experienced federal criminal defense attorney by your side is crucial when facing these charges. The complexities of federal law and the potential severity of the penalties demand a skilled advocate who can navigate your case intricacies. Our attorney has a proven track record in federal criminal defense matters and is dedicated to providing aggressive yet compassionate representation. 

Fight for Your Rights 

Facing felon in possession of a firearm charges requires a legal team that will stand by you and fight for your rights. At Eisenhauer Law, we're dedicated to providing exceptional representation in federal criminal defense matters. With our experienced team led by attorney Phil Eisenhauer, we possess the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle complex cases and aim for the best possible outcome.

Our firm is based in St. Louis, Missouri, and we proudly serve clients throughout St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and Jefferson County. With our deep understanding of the local legal landscape and strong community relationships, we're here to stand by your side and fight for your rights. Get in touch with us today for a consultation and let us be your trusted advocate during this challenging time.