Disclaimer: The information you’re about to read in this article only serves as a general reference to the legal aspect of firearm charges. Thus, it shouldn’t be taken as actual legal advice. To have an in-depth understanding of this topic, it’s advised that you speak to a licensed attorney whose experience is helpful in your own case.
Understanding gun ownership can be sometimes tricky. In fact, Americans have been reported to own a significant number of guns for a variety of purposes. This means that many of them possess more than one firearm – and that makes the United States as the number one country with the most reported gun ownership. While gun ownership can be a complicated topic to deal with, here are the key things you need to know legally about firearms/weapon charges.
What are the key conditions in obtaining a firearm?
- Minimum age
- You should remember that federal gun laws require those people who want to possess firearms to be at least 18 years of age. In other words, there’s a minimum age requirement before you can legally own a handgun for your personal use.
- Restrictions on purchasing a firearm
- For security purposes, people who are considered dangerous to society are restricted from buying firearms. These people may be those who are involuntarily admitted to mental institutions.
- Take note that people who have past convictions of felony crimes are no longer allowed to purchase guns.
- You should also keep in mind that federal law also prohibits the sale of firearms to people who have been previously convicted of drug use within the past few years.
- Permits to carry firearms
- Keep in mind that most states regulate possession of firearms by requiring gun owners to secure a permit to carry firearms. However, some states allow citizens to carry guns without the necessary permits.
- In other words, laws concerning licenses to carry firearms are still subject to regulation by some states.
- Authorized sellers of firearms
- If you want to purchase a handgun legally, you should only do it through authorized firearms dealers and sellers.
- In these types of situations, make sure to decide on a seller who has obtained the required license to conduct the business of selling firearms legally.
Who can be convicted of illegal handgun possession?
Like other crimes punishable under the law, penalties for illegal handgun possession differ extensively from state to state. For example, legal penalties for illegal possession of firearms may be different for convicted felons and other criminals. Below, we’ll give you the list of those who can be sentenced for illegal handgun possession as well as their general penalties.
- Handgun owners without the required license, certificate or permit
- Bear in mind that people who have failed to secure permits and licenses can be criminally liable for illegal handgun possession.
- Although criminal penalties for the offense don’t necessarily apply to all states, jail sentence and payment of enormous fines are considered some of the common penalties.
- Illegal possession by minors
- Who would have thought that minors can be convicted of illegal handgun possession under the federal law? In most states, individuals below the age of 18 years of age are prohibited from possessing any firearm.
- You should also remember that there are states who allow minors to carry guns when they go hunting and with their parents’ consent.
- Illegal possession by convicted felons
- Illegal possession by convicted felons is a big no under the federal gun laws. For some states, the felonies associated with unlawful gun possession may have something to do with violence or drug use.
- For convicted felons, the prohibition for firearm possession may only apply to a specific period. In fact, some states require a different list of criminal penalties for those who’ve been involved in a domestic violence charge.
- In general, there can be no specific penalties for a particular situation as these legal repercussions may vary depending on your location and circumstances.
What to do when you’ve been charged with violation of federal gun laws?
- Know your legal rights
- If you’ve been accused of the violation of federal gun laws, the next important thing you should consider is understanding your legal rights.
- Take note that knowing your rights under the law may also mean learning the proper way of defending yourself against a criminal charge.
- Get help from a criminal defense attorney
- When you’ve been charged with a firearm-related crime, you should find time to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
- Keep in mind that getting help from a lawyer can be beneficial for your case. As soon as you get an attorney, it’s essential that you talk about your available legal options.
- In most cases, your cooperation is mostly needed when your defense attorney will start to discuss the following information with you:
- The things that made you liable for violating a federal gun law such as elements of the crime
- b) The potential defense you can take advantage of to win the case
- c) The legal consequences of being convicted of illegal possession of gun
If you’ve been prosecuted for violating a federal gun law, we hope that the information mentioned earlier has given you the idea as to the things you need to know legally about firearm charges. In cases like these, you’ll certainly need someone to safeguard your legal rights in court and talking to an attorney can be an advantage.
Anne McGee has over 20 years of experience writing about law subjects where she hopes her knowledge can help the common reader understand law topics that may be of relevance to their daily lives. If she’s not reading a good book, then chances are Anne is jogging during her free time.