Federal Weapons Crimes
There are a variety of federal criminal laws that regulate weapons, and these laws tend to have much harsher maximum penalties than similar state laws. The troubling trend in Maryland is that state and local law enforcement officers commonly pass their firearm arrests onto a federal law enforcement agency, where an arrestee can be charged with a far more serious crime. U.S. law contains strict sentencing guidelines that may include mandatory minimum prison sentences, and large mandatory fines. Even if you are being investigated by a state or local police department, you could ultimately be arrested by a U.S. law enforcement agency and your case can be prosecuted in court by an assistant United State’s attorney. The stakes are too high to face federal prosecutors without the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney
The most common federal weapons crime is the illegal sale or distribution of firearms. United States law enforcement agencies such as the ATF do not just concentrate on arresting large interstate firearms dealers but rather will investigate and arrest any suspect no matter if they are connected to a larger scheme or not. ATF investigators often work with local police departments to secure arrests of street level firearms dealers. The penalty for a first violation carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, but in many cases a defendant can avoid a significant jail sentence all together. On the other hand, there are many aggravating factors under the firearm laws that can exponentially increase the potential punishment upon conviction.
A conviction for a violation of the federal firearms laws may result in a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison if the defendant has 3 prior convictions of any crime classified as a serious drug offense, or a violent crime. Serious drug offenses under the federal firearm statute are defined as a drug offense with a maximum sentence of 10 years or more in jail. A conviction in Maryland state court for distribution or sale of an illegal drug will qualify as a serious drug offense. Violent crimes under the federal firearm statute include felonies such as burglary, aggravated assault, and any felony involving the carrying of a dangerous weapon. Often time, state and local police will tip off agents when a known convicted felon is believed to be selling or using a firearm during the commission of a crime so that that person can be arrested by the feds and face a minimum 15 year prison sentence.
U.S. gun laws also incorporate minimum mandatory prison sentences for defendants convicted of using or carrying a firearm during the course of a violent crime or a drug trafficking crime. These minimum mandatory prison sentences cannot be waived or substituted with probation. The complex and harsh laws of the federal weapons statute makes it imperative to have a skilled and knowledgeable counsel. The Herbst Firm is willing to take on prosecutors no matter how complex or difficult your case may be, and we will fight for your freedom and your reputation in and out of court.