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What are the potential penalties of gun-related crimes?

A gun is the most popular personal weapon these days. While some Spokane, Washington, gun advocates believe that a gun is good protection in case of danger, local authorities have seen the negative contribution of firearms to violent crimes that threaten the safety of the community, including those in eastern Washington State and northern Idaho. As a result, the federal government implemented gun laws that provide for mandatory penalties for those who are convicted of gun-related crimes.

For example, if an alleged robber uses a gun to threaten victims during the crime, he or she would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, if found guilty. The potential consequences under federal law may be more severe if someone sustains bodily injury during the incident. Accordingly, possessing a gun, discharging a gun during a violent crime or drug trafficking and brandishing a gun in public also are covered under the federal mandatory minimum sentences for gun possession. Under the law, possession of weapons may result in a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders and 25 years for a second conviction and each additional conviction. The mandatory minimum varies, based on the kind of gun used during a crime, such as a short-barreled shotgun, machine gun, destructive device and a short-barreled rifle.

Discharging a gun would result in a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders and 25 years for two or more for subsequent convictions. If an accused person discharged a machine gun, it may equate to a sentence ranging from a mandatory minimum of 30 years to life in prison. Displaying or suggesting the presence of a firearm may land you a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence with up to 25 years for additional offenses.

Given the mandatory minimum sentencing rules enacted by federal law, people facing weapon charges must protect their rights with a vigilant criminal defense. Offenders then can receive a reasonable judgment without violation of their civil rights.

Source: Famm.org, "Gun Mandatory Minimum Sentences" accessed on Oct. 1, 2014

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