Federal Gun Possession Charges
Page last reviewed and updated: September 5, 2020
Gun charges are some of the most common cases in Pennsylvania’s federal court, especially for residents of Philadelphia. Usually, federal gun charges are filed with other charges, like drug delivery.
Federal sentencing laws for gun possession convictions are especially harsh. Under federal criminal law, many defendants face mandatory minimum prison sentences of 5, 10 or even 30 years which are statutorily required to run consecutively, NOT concurrently.
Federal criminal cases accepted in Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, etc. FREE CONSULTATIONS (215) 564-0644
In the article below, Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer David Nenner discusses some of the most common federal laws pertaining to gun possession and their mandatory prison sentences. Learn more about gun charges in Pennsylvania.
Prior Felony Conviction – 10 Year Prison Sentence
Title 18 of the U.S. Code Section 922 makes it illegal to transport or possess any gun/ammo which has been shipped or transported between states. Section 922 (g)(1) applies to anyone who has a prior felony conviction (i.e., a crime punishable by over 1 year imprisonment).
Section 922 (g)(1) provides:
It shall be unlawful for any person—who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…* to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. [*additional subsections omitted]
Section 924 specifies a 10 year prison sentence for violation of Section 922 (g). Section 924 (a)(2) provides:
Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a)(6), (d), (g), (h), (i), (j), or (o) of section 922 shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
Possession of a Gun During Commission of a Drug Crime or Violent Crime
Under Section 924 (c)(1), which is provided below, individuals who carry, brandish or discharge a gun during the commission of a drug crime or violent crime (like a robbery) is subject to mandatory prison sentences. The length of the prison sentence depends on the facts. Was the gun merely possessed as opposed to brandished or otherwise discharged or fired?
Here’s an explanation of the prison sentences. A Philadelphia resident is selling drugs on the street and is arrested by federal agents in a massive multi-state drug bust.
- If she merely carried a gun in her backpack when she was selling drugs, she faces 5 years in prison.
- If she waived her gun around or even displayed her gun during the sale, she faces 7 years in prison.
- If she discharged or fired the gun while she was selling drugs, she faces 10 years in prison.
Other Factors that Increase Prison Sentences
In addition, other factors can increase the federal prison sentence for gun convictions. If the seller carried a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, she faces 10 years in prison. If her firearm was equipped with a silencer or muffler, she faces 30 years in prison.
Three Strike Rule Increases Prison Sentence to 15 Years
If an individual has three prior convictions for violent felonies or drug trafficking crimes, the prison sentence increases to 15 years. See Section 924 (e)(1), which provides:
In the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than fifteen years, and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not suspend the sentence of, or grant a probationary sentence to, such person with respect to the conviction under section 922(g).
Federal Gun Charges in Pennsylvania – Get Legal Help Now
Federal gun charge cases have been increasing in the last 2 years. As of September 2020, there’s been a stark increase in the number of defendants arrested and charged with federal gun crimes.
In federal gun/drug cases, federal prosecutors often threaten defendants with these mandatory prison sentences to induce a plea. That’s why it’s crucial to be able to defeat these charges with any legal arguments like constitutional violations, i.e., illegal searches or seizures.
Firm partner David S. Nenner has over 30 years of experience defending clients from federal and state gun and drug charges. He is a top rated criminal lawyer in Philadelphia and offers free consultations. (215) 564-0644
Title 18 U.S. Code Section 924(c)(1) (current as of March 20, 2019)
(A) Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime—
(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years;
(ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and
(iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years.
(B) If the firearm possessed by a person convicted of a violation of this subsection—
(i) is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years; or
(ii) is a machine gun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 30 years.
(C) In the case of a violation of this subsection that occurs after a prior conviction under this subsection has become final, the person shall—
(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 25 years; and
(ii) if the firearm involved is a machine gun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, be sentenced to imprisonment for life.
(D) Notwithstanding any other provision of law—
(i) a court shall not place on probation any person convicted of a violation of this subsection; and
(ii) no term of imprisonment imposed on a person under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment imposed on the person, including any term of imprisonment imposed for the crime of violence or drug trafficking crime during which the firearm was used, carried, or possessed.