Although the right to own guns is protected in a broad sense by the Constitution, that right is restricted by myriad laws at the federal, state, and local levels. It is easy to violate one of these restrictions without knowing it. Unfortunately, the penalties can be quite severe.
If you have been charged with a firearms offense, you need to make sure you understand the ramifications and your options for fighting the charges. A knowledgeable Mecklenburg County gun lawyer could help protect your rights while devising the optimum strategy for defense. A criminal lawyer with a thorough understanding of gun laws could also help minimize the long-term consequences of a firearms offense.
Because there are so many laws restricting the use of firearms, gun law violations are almost limitless in variety. However, experienced lawyers see some gun offenses charged in Mecklenburg County more commonly than others.
The severity of the offense, and the corresponding penalties, often vary depending on the circumstances. In many cases, if any injury results from a gun violation, the crime is penalized more severely. In other situations, the location of the violation may be the factor that aggravates the severity of an offense. Common gun offenses include:
In addition, the use of a gun during the commission of a crime can be treated as a separate offense or be used as an aggravating factor to increase the severity of the underlying crime.
While many firearm law violations are considered misdemeanors, they are most often Class 1 misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2500, although a seasoned lawyer in Mecklenburg County could argue for an alternative penalty whenever possible. Moreover, the presence of any aggravating circumstances can raise many gun offenses to a Class 6 felony with a much higher maximum sentence of five years.
In many situations, the laws impose mandatory minimums as well. For example, under Va. Code § 18.2-308.2, an individual with a prior felony conviction who is found in possession of a firearm is considered guilty of a Class 6 felony. If that prior conviction was for a violent felony, then the law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
Gun offenses connected with other crimes carry extremely serious penalties. Use of a machine gun during the commission or attempt to commit a violent crime, for instance, is itself a Class 2 felony punishable by life in prison.
Public opinion favors increasingly tight restrictions on the ownership and use of firearms, and lawmakers have responded accordingly. Law enforcement officials often have no choice but to charge firearms violations even where no one suffers any harm.
An experienced Mecklenburg County gun lawyer understands the constraints imposed by the laws and how to work to reach a positive outcome. For a free consultation to learn how a criminal defense lawyer could help in your situation, call now.
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