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What is the federal law about felon in possession of a firearm?

Weapons charges are some very serious criminal charges, especially when the person facing the charge is already a convicted felon. When a felon is in possession of a firearm, he or she can be charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). This is the federal law that makes it illegal for felons to possess a firearm.

What sentences are possible for convictions of this law?

Almost all convictions based on this law involve prison sentences. In some cases, convictions of this law occur in conjunction with violations of other laws or with criteria that brings minimum sentences into the case. Some of those laws, such as the Armed Career Criminal Act, have minimum sentencing requirements. The inclusion of laws other than 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) impacts the average length of incarceration.

What is the average incarceration terms imposed?

When you factor in all 922(g) convictions, including those in which the person was sentenced under the ACCA, the average length of prison sentences was 75 months. If you take out the sentences that included convictions under the ACCA, the average length of incarceration was only 46 months.

What are some facts regarding the people sentenced under 922(g)?

Most of the people, 98.2 percent, who were sentenced under 922(g) for being felons in possession of firearms were males. The average age of the people convicted under 922(g) was 33 years old. More than 90 percent of the people convicted were U.S. citizens.

Weapons charges that violate this law are very serious and should be treated as such. The period of incarceration that is possible should lead people facing these types of charges to explore options for a defense.

Source: United States Sentencing Commission, “Quick Facts: Felon in Possession of a Firearm,” accessed Oct. 18, 2015

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