Monday, August 12, 2013

Felon in Possession of Firearm Sentencing in Federal Courts

Being charged as a felon in possession of a firearm in a federal court is no walk in the park. If found guilty, the sentencing judge calculates the imprisonment based on mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, previous convictions, and grounds for departure. The federal guidelines for sentencing felons in possession are severe. Sentencing is calculated by considering the base offense level, as laid out on the Guidelines Sentencing Table, and adding on enhancements depending on the unique features of the federal firearms charge and surrounding circumstances of the felon and situation in which the firearm was possessed.

Federal Sentencing for Felon in Possession of Firearm and Enhancements:

  • The minimum base offense level is 15 and the maximum is 29.
  • 15 year mandatory minimum sentence for a person who had 3 prior convictions of robberies, burglaries, or both on their record before they turned 18 (U.S.C. 922(g)).
  •  Possession of a semi-automatic firearm, shotgun having a barrel(s) of less than 18", weapon made from a shotgun or rifle less than 26" or barrel(s) less than 16", rifle having a barrel(s) of less than 16", machinegun, silencer, or weapon that can be discharged through the energy of an explosion increases the base offense level increases to 20 (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • Possession of a destructive device (bomb, grenade, mine or similar device) 2 is added to the base offense level of 20, making the offense level 22 (U.S.C. 2K2.1).
  • Possession of a rocket or missile adds 15 to the base offense level of 20 making the offense level 35 (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • A stolen firearms will add 2 points to the base offense level (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • Any destruction or alteration of the firearm's serial number will add 4 points to the base offense level (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • If more than 3 weapons were possessed the base offense level increases depending on the precise number of weapons possessed (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • A former conviction of violent crime or drug offense increases the base offense level to 20.
  • If a aforementioned weapon was in possession and a prior drug or violent crime offense exists the base offense level increases to 22 (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • If there were two prior drug or violent crime convictions the base offense level increases to 24 (U.S.C. 2K2.1).. If the 2 priors existed and are combined with possession of a firearms listed above the base offense level increases to 26  (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • Firearm trafficking raises the level by four  (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
  • Possession of a firearms in connections with another felony raises the level by four (U.S.C. 5K2.6).
  • Other enhancements that lengthen sentencing may apply that can raise the base offense level well past 29 (U.S.C. 2K2.1)..
There is no doubt that federal sentencing for a felon in possession of a firearm is a very serious matter especially when coupled with enhancements. If you are a felon and are being investigated or charged with possession of a firearm, you need top criminal lawyers to build a strong defense and get the judge to depart from the mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Getting a sentencing judge to depart from the mandatory sentencing guidelines and offer much lower sentencing, dismissing the case, or probation for a felon can only be done by criminal lawyers experienced in federal courts. Expert criminal lawyers know how to minimize the effects of prior convictions. For some cases they can argue that you had some bad judgment or just made a bad decision but you are not dangerous to others and don't deserve to be in prison. That is just one strategy, but there are many case strategies criminal lawyers use but ultimately the strategy they choose for a solid defense will entirely depend on the unique characteristics of your case, the prosecuting U.S. attorney, prior criminal history and other factors.

LibertyBell Law Group's criminal lawyers  have a lot of experience in federal courts and they have the resources and expertise to get you the best result. The expert lawyers work hard and develop a unique defense ideal for your individual federal case. They also know the differences between the judges and U.S. attorneys and how to best work with each. LibertyBell Law Group's lawyers have an excellent history of getting the best results for state and federal cases, well above average.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

When do Criminal Lawyers Use the Entrapment Defense?

Entrapment is the term used to describe when a person is induced to commit a crime as a result of law enforcement creating a deceptive mock situation, called a sting operation, in order to charge the person and get a conviction.

Sting operations are commonly used for:
Sting operations have been used for decades by police, detectives, the FBI and more and they have become very sophisticated and have a history of getting convictions.

Criminal lawyers use the entrapment defense when law enforcement has overstepped its bounds by threatening, harassing, or using excessive tactics to persuade someone into committing a crime. The entrapment defense is successful only when criminal lawyers can prove the defendant would have not have committed the crime if not only because of the sting operation. 

In the past, judges and jurors have not ruled it unlawful for law enforcement to create an opportunity for committing a crime to find someone guilty. The most important key aspect a judge and jurors examine is whether or not the defendant would have committed the crime without law enforcement if the opportunity presented itself.

Prosecutors know if a defendant has a criminal history "entrapment" is probably not going to be a good defense and it will not be accepted by jurors or the judge.  Knowing this, law enforcement uses entrapment in order to convict a person otherwise hard to catch, a person to which they have reason to believe is committing crimes but they don't have enough evidence to file charges. In these types of cases, top criminal lawyers will not use the entrapment defense, knowing it will end badly for the defendant. Rather, criminal lawyers will work with experts, investigators, and a team of other attorneys to find holes in the prosecutor's case in order to make a solid criminal defense strategy.

Criminal lawyers know that using "entrapment" can actually be the worst defense for some cases. Top criminal lawyers with lots of experience know there are much better defenses that can be used, though they require much harder work, but well worth it if it results in a win for the defendant.

Entrapment can be a great defense, when the defendant has no criminal history, has an outstanding reputation in the community and other various factors criminal lawyers take into account to show the defendant was entrapped.