If you have been charged with a federal weapons charge, you probably know that you are facing severe consequences if convicted. Houston criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC represent clients in state and federal weapons violation cases, and they know that prosecutors take these cases seriously.
Federal laws cover the possession, use, distribution, and sale of weapons, and you can be charged with a crime for violating any of these laws. Keep reading for things you should know if you are facing federal weapons charges.
Sentencing Is Steep For Federal Weapons Convictions
Sentencing and fines depend on your particular case facts, such as the nature of the offense and whether or not you used the weapon during the commission of a separate crime. For example, if you used an illegal firearm while engaging in drug trafficking, you would face steeper penalties than you would if your only crime was unlawful possession of a weapon.
You will also be looking at a more severe punishment if you have a prior conviction. Weapons charges with prior convictions can add decades to your sentence, and in some cases, these charges can lead to life sentences.
You May Be Charged Even If You Didn’t Know You Were Breaking The Law
Federal weapons laws are broad, and you can break the law without realizing it. For example, you may have a lawful conceal and carry permit, but you might not know that weapons are prohibited in federal buildings, and if you enter a federal building with a prohibited weapon, you can be charged with a federal crime.
Other common violations involve airplane travel with weapons. You are permitted under some circumstances to travel by plane with weapons, but you must strictly comply with the transportation laws, such as packing your weapons in your checked luggage and declaring those weapons that you have packed.
Sentencing And Fines Are Not The Only Consequences For Weapons Convictions
If you are convicted of a weapons crime, you may experience collateral consequences in addition to sentencing and fines. Weapons convictions may impact your right to vote and possess firearms. You will also have a criminal record, which could damage your job status, job prospects, and housing rental opportunities.
Weapons convictions may also impact your eligibility for public housing and public assistance. Other potential consequences include denied college applications and immigration status problems. In some cases, weapons convictions can result in professional license suspension or revocation.
Federal Weapons Charges Do Not Automatically Mean Convictions
Facing federal weapons charges is a scary prospect, but you should not assume that you will be convicted of your charges, even if you think the prosecutors have the evidence they need to secure a conviction. There are many potential defenses to weapons charges, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will aggressively defend your case.
Your attorney will examine all of the facts and evidence to determine the best legal strategies for your defense. Common defenses and strategies include the following:
- Plea bargaining – Prosecutors generally prefer to settle cases instead of going to trial, and they are often willing to negotiate with the defense. Plea bargains may involve pleading guilty to lesser charges. In some cases, prosecutors may be more lenient if you agree to testify against another defendant.
- Constitutional violations – Evidence that was gathered in violation of your constitutional rights cannot be used in court. Constitutional violations frequently involve illegal search and seizure, illegal interrogation tactics, and failure to read Miranda warnings.
- Dismissal of charges – Your attorney may ask the court to dismiss the charges if there is not enough evidence to convict you. This often happens when prosecutors have a weak case to begin with or when evidence is thrown out for constitutional violations.
- Plead not guilty – You and your attorney may decide to go to trial if prosecutors are not willing to compromise to agreeable plea terms, and you have a solid defense to present to a jury.
Contact A Federal Weapons Charges Attorney
If you are facing federal weapons charges, contact the attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 or online to schedule a consultation. When you have been charged with a serious crime that comes with severe consequences, you need an attorney who has experience defending clients in federal court. We will go over your case facts, examine the evidence against you, including how it was collected, and determine the best defense path to pursue in your case.
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