• Federal vs. State Gun Charges: What You Need to Know

    Federal vs. State Gun Charges: What You Need to Know

    If you’ve been arrested for a firearms-related offense in Virginia, you could potentially face state or federal charges, depending on the nature of the arrest. For many gun owners, the legal landscape can be confusing and complicated when it comes to possessing and carrying weapons. Unfortunately, as with most laws, ignorance of the law is not a defense or excuse for violating it, and many people find themselves facing serious charges for crimes they were not aware they were committing.

    Because the penalties for gun charges can be severe, your best strategy to fight federal or state charges is to hire an experienced Virginia gun crimes defense attorney to represent you. At Leary Law, PC, we provide our clients with knowledgeable and aggressive representation. We are here to help protect your rights and our team has extensive experience in trial and appellate courts. You are not alone. Contact us today at 703-359-7111 to schedule a free consultation at our Fairfax or Manassas, Virginia offices.

    Differences Between Federal and State Gun Charges

    Numerous laws have been enacted by the Commonwealth of Virginia to protect the public from the threat of gun violence. A vast majority of gun-related offenses are state crimes that are prosecuted by attorneys for the Commonwealth in state courts, in front of state judges.

    It’s important to note, however, that even if you are arrested by local or state law enforcement in Virginia, you could still be charged with a federal offense, depending on the class of the activity. This means that the case could be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.

    Types of Federal Gun Charges

    Under the federal system, the government is limited in its authority to enact criminal laws that do not affect national security.

    However, in the state of Virginia, if the federal prosecutor wishes, this becomes a technicality. In all gun cases, the federal government could claim jurisdiction if the gun ever crossed a state line. Technically, since there are no gun manufacturers in Virginia, any gun in the state must have been transported across state lines.

    The U.S. criminal code establishes firearms violations in several areas that fall under Title 18. Unless you are otherwise licensed, there is an extensive list of violations some of which include making it unlawful to:

    • Be in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms or ammunition
    • Ship or transport firearms across state lines or to foreign countries for sale
    • Purchase a gun outside the state or sell it to any person who does not reside in the state
    • Acquire a firearm under false or fictitious circumstances
    • Purchase armor piercing ammunition
    • Purchase a firearm for someone younger than 18 years
    • Sell a firearm or ammunition to a person under indictment for a crime punishable for a term of one year or more, a fugitive, a person addicted to a controlled substance, a person committed to a mental institution, or who is in the U.S. illegally

    Penalties for Federal Gun Charges

    There are strict penalties for federal gun charges, many of which come with mandatory minimum sentencing.

    If convicted, you could be forced to pay heavy fines and court fees and might face jail time and probation. The penalties for federal gun crimes could run from at least 5 years up to life in prison without parole. For example, the following crimes come with a minimum mandatory sentence of at least five years:

    • Using a firearm during a federal crime
    • Selling or disposing of a firearm or ammunition to someone who’s not allowed to own it
    • Stealing a firearm or using a firearm in a school zone
    • Possessing or creating a machine gun, silencer, or sawed-off shotgun
    • Sell, deliver or provide a gun to a juvenile

    Were You Arrested for a Gun Crime in Fairfax? Call Leary Law Today

    If you were arrested and are facing state or federal weapons charges, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced gun crimes defense attorney right away. The Fairfax violent crimes attorneys at Leary Law have extensive experience representing individuals facing charges similar to yours, and we’ll be ready to fight for you.

    No two cases are exactly alike, so you need attentive legal representation and an aggressive defense strategy. Contact us today at 703-359-7111 to discuss the specifics of your case with a member of our team.




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