Federal Firearms Criminal Defense Attorney
LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience providing unparalleled representation to clients charged with firearms related offenses in state and federal court in Michigan. When you need the best possible defense, we are ready to help you.
Federal Definition of “Firearm”
The Federal laws pertaining to firearms define a “firearm” as any weapon, including a starter pistol, which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. This definition also includes things you may not think would fall under the definition, such as the frame or receiver of a weapon, and silencers. It does not matter if the firearm has been disassembled or made inoperable by, for example, filing down the firing pin so that the gun cannot fire. This is because a gun with a firing pin filed down can be “readily converted” to operability by replacing the firing pin. A person may also not possess a gun which has had its serial numbers removed. Of course, most people know it is illegal to possess a machine gun (a gun able to continuously fire multiple bullets with one pull of the trigger) without a license.
Persons Who May Not Possess Firearms Under Federal Law
In addition to the prohibition of certain types of firearms, certain people may not possess firearms under federal law. These include:
- convicted felons (people convicted of a crime which carries a penalty of 1 year or more),
- people with drug addictions,
- people who have been adjudged to be “mentally defective,”
- illegal aliens,
- people dishonorably discharged from the military,
- people who have renounced their United States citizenship,
- people who have certain types of domestic personal protection orders in place against them, and
- people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
Will I go to Jail if I’m Convicted of Violating a Federal Firearm Law?
The answer is that even if you have no criminal record, you are in serious danger of being sentenced to prison if you are convicted of one of the provisions above or are in one of the prohibited persons categories above. The average sentencing guideline range for a person who has no prior record will likely face 15-21 months in federal prison. A first offense for basic violation of the rules above carries a 5-year penalty. Stepped-up violations include “brandishing” a prohibited weapon or brandishing by a prohibited person: 7 years; discharging a prohibited weapon or discharged by a prohibited person: 10 years; possession of a shot-barreled rifle or shotgun: 10 years; possession of a machine gun or silencer: 30 years. A second offense for any of these violations carries a 25-year penalty.
There are many ways to avoid jail or prison time in these cases. A person may not be guilty and the best strategy may be to attempt to get the charges dismissed entirely. In other cases, a skilled defense attorney may be able to convince the US Attorney’s Office or the District Judge to resolve a case with reduced charges or a lenient sentence.
Can an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Keep Me Out of Jail?
There are many ways an astute, seasoned criminal defense attorney can reduce the possibility of a federal conviction and jail sentence. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can attack the charges in several ways. The attack must start with challenging how the government found out you had a gun in violation of the law. Federal search and seizure expertise is critical. An astute defense attorney will also have had enough experience that he or she will know the right firearms experts to challenge the operability of a weapon. Such an attorney will also know how to prove you did not know you had an illegal weapon in your possession (all federal courts agree that you must know you possessed the weapon). These are just a few of the beginning points in challenging a federal firearm charge. Both the charge and the sentence can be challenged and your best hope is with a lawyer with decades of experience successfully representing clients in Federal Court.
Top-Rated Federal Firearms Defense Attorneys
As can be seen above, federal law is complex and carries severe penalties. You need a retained attorney who is exclusively a criminal defense attorney, and one with extensive federal defense experience.
The dedicated, experienced, and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented numerous clients on felony charges in the United States District Court, and have a stellar reputation with the federal district court judges and prosecutors. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.