Felon in Possession of a Firearm: What Happens If You’re Caught?
If you are a felon caught in possession of a firearm, you will likely face criminal charges. In most states, this is a felony offense. The penalties for this crime can be quite severe, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. It is essential to know the law in North Carolina and understand the consequences of charges of “felon in possession of a firearm.”
What Does NC Law Say?
The Felony Firearms Act written in NC law prohibits someone who has a felony conviction from possessing firearms. It’s unlawful as someone with a felony conviction to:
- Possess or
- Have in your custody, care, or control
Any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction, any explosive or incendiary, including:
- Rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces
- A missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than 1/4 ounce
- Mine or Device similar to any of the devices described above
- Weapon that can expel a projectile with more than ½ inch bore (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell particularly suitable for sporting purposes)
- Firearm capable of fully automatic fire
- Shotgun with barrels less than 18 inches in length or overall length of less than 26 inches
- Rifle with barrels less than 16 inches in length or an overall length of less than 26 inches
- Muffler or silencer for any type of firearm
- Rifle intended to fire from the shoulder
- Parts that convert into a weapon of mass death and destruction
- Antique firearms are not considered a firearm under the statute. (1)
Charges for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
If you have physical control of a gun, you are in “actual” possession of the prohibited device. However, you can also face conviction for possession of the firearm if you are aware of a firearm’s presence and have the power and intent to use it. This is called “constructive” possession.
For example, if you are riding in a car and a handgun is under your seat, you could face charges for constructive possession, even if you claim that you did not know of the gun’s presence. Law enforcement would need to use circumstantial evidence to prove that you were aware of the gun and had the intent to control it.
For an actual possession charge, you might have a gun in your handbag, backpack, or on your person. Either way, the penalties can be severe.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm: What Happens If Caught?
Possession of a firearm by a felon is a serious crime, a Class G felony. If convicted, you could face a prison sentence of 12 -26 months. The punishment may increase to 31-47 months if you have other criminal convictions.
You can also face probation, fines, or other penalties. However, with an experienced criminal law attorney on your side, you have a chance to fight possession charges and make it through without a criminal record.
Can a Felon Own a Firearm After Expungement?
An expungement of a criminal record means that no one can hold a past crime against you. You can even legally testify that you are not a “felon” in court after expungement of crimes. North Carolina authorizes the expungement of Class H and I nonviolent felonies. You can check out a sample list of crimes and their classifications at NCCourts.gov.
If a judge grants the expungement of your record, you may legally own a firearm again. However, there are some types of felony convictions that will always be on your record. If your felony was a violent offense that harmed another physically, you are not eligible for an expungement. Any crime that includes assault does not qualify. DWI is another example of a crime that the state will not expunge. Some felony drug convictions are eligible, while others are not.
If you have questions about whether your felony might be eligible for expungement, contact us at Scharff Law. We focus on helping you get a second chance. We can take you through the steps of criminal law expungement, getting you back to a clean record.
How to Fight a Gun Possession by Felon Charge
If you face charges of “felon in possession of a firearm,” it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges. An experienced attorney will know how to challenge the evidence against you and may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible is essential to protecting your rights.
We Can Help
At Scharff Law, we investigate all circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charges against you. We look for rights violations by law enforcement and work with the DA’s office to negotiate your charges down if possible. It’s challenging to live with a felony record. Getting charged with another felony can feel devastating, especially if you didn’t intend to possess a gun.
At Scharff Law, we understand that situations can get out of control quickly and that law enforcement will often try to get you to make incriminating statements. We listen to your side of the story and help you get the best outcome for your particular situation. Contact us today and find out how we can help you move forward.