Weapon offenses are serious crimes under federal law. A defendant could face even harsher punishments for using a firearm when committing a violent crime or a drug-related offense. If convicted, a defendant may be sentenced to decades in prison under mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
Penalties for Using or Carrying a Firearm While Committing a Crime of Violence or Drug-Trafficking
The federal statute that requires enhanced penalties when a firearm is used in the commission of violent crimes or drug-related offenses is 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c). This law provides for a longer minimum sentence if a person is using or carrying a firearm while committing a violent or drug trafficking crime. A crime of violence is defined under the statute as a felony that involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force against an individual or his property.
The length of the mandatory minimum punishment will depend on the type of gun used and how it was used when the crime was committed. Punishments can include the following:
- Minimum sentence of five years to up to life in prison for possession of a gun during a crime
- Minimum sentence of seven years to up to life in prison for brandishing a gun during a crime
- Minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison if the firearm is discharged during a crime
- Minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison for possession of a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon during a crime
- Minimum sentence of 30 years to life in prison for possession of a machine gun or destructive device or another gun with a firearm silencer or muffler during a crime
There are even more severe penalties if this is a second offense for carrying or using a firearm while committing a violent or drug trafficking crime. The mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years up to life in prison for a second conviction. When a second conviction involves a machine gun, destructive device, or gun with a firearm silencer or muffler, the minimum mandatory punishment is life in prison.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Legal Assistance
Have you or has someone you know been charged with possessing or using a firearm in the commission of a violent or drug trafficking offense? Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, our experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyers can mount a strong defense to the charges being faced and/or evaluate the case for a possible appeal. We have more than 40 years of combined experience defending clients arrested for these and other serious state and federal crimes.
To learn how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. There's no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. If you decide to use our services, we offer convenient payment plans to make access to high-quality legal representation as affordable as possible.