U.S. federal criminal laws make it a crime for a felon to possess a firearm. A violation of these laws is a felony offense punishable by years in state prison. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges involving a firearm, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today for help.

Can a Felon Carry a Firearm?

Generally, no. 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) is the federal law on the matter. According to this statute, it is a crime for any person convicted of a felony to ship, transport, or possess any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce.

Note that “interstate commerce” means commerce or travel between the states, territories, and possessions of the United States. “Foreign commerce” means commerce or travel between any part of the United States and any place outside the United States.

Note, too, that state criminal laws usually also make it a crime for a felon to carry or possess a firearm. RCW 9.41.040 is the Washington law on the topic.

What are the Penalties?

A violation of the above law is a Class C federal felony. The crime is punishable by:

  • Custody in federal prison for up to 15 years, followed by up to 3 years of supervised release and/or
  • Up to 5 years of probation
  • A maximum fine of $1,000,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. Felons charged with possessing a gun can contest the charge with a legal defense. For example, “possession” carries a very precise definition under the law. Defendants, then, can try to challenge a charge by showing that they technically never possessed a firearm. Or, they can assert that that they were not aware that the firearm was present.  Defendants can also try to make the case that they were never convicted of a prior felony, or that they were unaware that they had been convicted of a felony.

A criminal defense lawyer can also try to challenge an accusation by showing that the police violated one of the defendant’s constitutional rights. For example, maybe the authorities conduct a search without probable cause or a warrant, or they arrested a defendant without probable cause or coerced a confession. In these cases, a judge can suppress evidence, or dismiss or reduce any criminal charges because of the violation.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a firearm possession charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various firearm and weapons charges, and we regularly handle these cases. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in firearm cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!