Federal Prosecution for Illegal Firearm Possession
Arrests for illegal possession are on the rise and may lead to federal gun charges
Homicides and assaults with deadly weapons are increasing nationally year-to-year, and in Philadelphia, the increase has been roughly twice the national average. In recent years, the Philadelphia Police Department started a major undertaking to get guns off the city streets. As a result, cases of illegal firearm possession are on the rise. Occasionally, the defendant’s licensed firearm has been confiscated or led to an arrest, despite possessing a valid license to carry. Most often, however, a person charged with illegal possession of a firearm is not licensed, because a prior conviction makes them ineligible to possess a weapon.
If the accused has any serious prior convictions, a charge of illegal possession can bring the attention of the Federal Government. The Federal Government has the option to select which cases they want to take on, and they typically focus on cases where:
- The defendant has a significant prior history
- The defendant does not have US citizenship
- There is not a viable motion to suppress evidence prior to trial
If the Federal Government decides to step in, it typically happens several months after the initial arrest by local authorities. When this happens, the case becomes significantly more complex and the defendant may be held at a federal detention facility.
Prosecution by the Federal Government is not a case of double jeopardy. What this means is that the case could be prosecuted at both the local and the federal level. Because these are separate sovereignties, the defendant can be prosecuted for the same exact criminal conduct. Most of the time, the local District Attorney will withdraw the prosecution and allow the Federal Government to proceed. However, it is not a guarantee. So you, and your attorney, should consider the risk as part of the overall strategy.
For most firearms cases, there are two way to attack the matter:
- File a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained by violating the defendant’s rights.
- Challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to determine if the person actually possessed the weapon, if it was not recovered from their person.
These strategies can work independently of each other. For example, our firm has recently prevailed on several cases to suppress the evidence when challenging the sufficiency of the evidence was not a viable option.
If the evidence against a defendant is sufficient and a motion to suppress is not viable, you, or your loved one, may be facing a considerable amount of jail time. In this scenario, you should discuss all options with your attorney to minimize the impact of a potential conviction.
The details of your case are critical to preparing the best possible defense. Be prepared to provide sufficient background, and witness information, and work with a lawyer that can see the entire case through to the best possible outcome. The Law Office of Andrew Gay, Jr., will work diligently to pursue a motion to suppress, challenge the sufficiency of the evidence and discuss all possible outcomes and strategies with you. If you would like to discuss your case, please call us today for your free consultation.
Get a Free Consultation
Contact us today for your free and confidential consultation.