What are Illegal Firearms?
“Illegal firearms” can mean two different things:
- Obtaining firearms illegally – For example, if you buy guns off the back of a van in an alley, most likely it is an illegal firearm. Even obtaining or selling a legal firearm in an illegal manner makes the firearm illegal.
- Certain weapons cannot be possessed legally no matter what.
What Types of Firearms are Considered Illegal to Possess?
There are many types of illegal firearms. Typical ones include:
- Unregistered firearms
- Firearms with serial number removed
- Stolen or illegally obtained firearms
- Automatic weapons or machine guns
- Sawed-off shotguns – Federal law states the barrel of a shotgun must be at least 18 inches.
You should be aware that gun laws can be very different depending on the region as well as the type of gun. For example, some types of sawed-off shotguns are illegal to posses, while other types of sawed-off shotguns may be possessed, so long as they conform to certain tax laws.
Finally, some firearms may be illegal for ordinary citizens to possess, but can be used by certain persons such as law enforcement personnel or persons with certified training.
What are the Consequences for Possessing Illegal Firearms?
If you are caught with an illegal firearm, it is considered a felony. The severity of your punishment depends on many factors such as if you committed a crime with the illegal firearm or your criminal history. A conviction for possessing an illegal firearm can result in:
- Parole or probation
- Heavy fines
- Unable to possess legal firearms in the future
Should I Get an Attorney if I am Charged with Possession of an Illegal Firearm?
If you are convicted of possessing an illegal firearm, you can be in serious trouble. Please consult a criminal defense attorney to learn more about your rights, defenses, and the complicated legal system.
What is a Weapons Charge?
The term weapons charge globally refers to a broad set of charges that involve weapons. Most state statutes are divided into two categories of weapon charges: possession and use. The first category focuses on the mere possession of a certain weapons. A defendant can be charged and convicted of possessing an illegal weapon, even though no one was hurt, threatened, or even saw the weapon. Because of public policy concerns, many states have banned all persons from possessing certain categories of weapons. Some of these weapons include switch blade knives, brass knuckles, short barrel shotguns, and some types of pepper spray. Additionally, all states have rules that restrict access to weapons by certain persons.
For example, convicted felons are not allowed to possess firearms under state or federal statutes. Some states do not allow convicted felons to possess body armor, a sub-category of weapons. The main focus of these weapon charges is possession. If the state can prove that the instrument was an illegal weapon and that a defendant exercised care, custody, or control of the weapon, then the defendant can be convicted of the weapon charge. Possession of illegal weapon charges tend to be lower than weapons charges that involve the actual use of a weapon.