Three Things You Should Know if You’ve Been Charged With Illegal Possession of a Firearm by a Career Criminal
The United State’s Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) of 1984 defines a career criminal as someone who has committed a certain violent crime three or more times, and which further provides sentence enhancements for these felons that possess or commit more crimes with firearms. Consequently, if you have been convicted of the same crime three or more times and are caught with possession of a firearm, your sentence will likely be longer than a first-time offender charged with illegal possession of a firearm. If you are a career criminal facing an illegal possession of a firearm charge, experienced legal representation is your best option for mitigating your charges and sentencing time. For the time being, however, there are a few things you should know.
- The ACCA requires minimum sentencing for career criminals charged with illegal possession of firearms or ammunition. Under the act, there is a 15-year minimum sentencing for anyone found in possession of a firearm or ammunition who also has three previous charges of violent felonies or drug trafficking, no matter how long ago those convictions occurred.
- If you are also in possession of drugs during the arrest for illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition, your sentencing will likely be longer. This depends, of course, on the type and amount of drug found on your person and if there was an intent to distribute. If you are a career felon and have a drug charge combined with your illegal possession of a firearm, it is especially vital to find and be represented by a qualified attorney.
- Although rare, you may be able to argue that a prior conviction should not stand because of the vague residual clause of the ACCA that has since been declared unconstitutional. To clarify, under the second definition of a violent felony under the ACCA, it includes crimes that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” Due to the ambiguity of the clause, and therefore the crime, if one of your previous crimes qualifies under this clause, it may not longer stand, which could change your status as a “career criminal” and therefore your sentencing time.
Career criminals charged with illegal possession of a firearm should be in contact with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. Having a good lawyer by your side is your best chance of reducing charges and sentencing time, particularly as these charges can be extremely difficult to get rid of and often require minimum sentencing. If you have any questions about the legal process for these types of cases or would like to set up an appointment with a skilled Cape Cod defensive attorney, please contact James Powderly at (508) 343-0676 today.