If you are charged with a federal violent or drug-related crime, your punishment could be more severe if you used a firearm in the commission of a crime covered under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c). Your mandatory minimum prison sentence may be increased to five to 30 years, depending on the circumstances of the crime. However, the United States Supreme Court recently struck down as unconstitutional a portion of this federal statute, which may give you grounds to challenge your sentence.
When Can You Face Enhanced Penalties Under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)?
18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) requires a defendant who was convicted of using a firearm during a violent or drug-related crime to be sentenced to a longer minimum prison sentence. Under this law, a violent crime is defined as a crime that is a felony that:
- 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(A). “Has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person or his property” or
- 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(B). “That by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense”
The Supreme Court’s Decision in United States v. Davis
On June 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Davis. In that case, the court ruled that 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(B) is unconstitutionally vague and unfair to defendants.
This ruling is very important because 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(B) has been used to increase the mandatory minimum sentences of tens of thousands of defendants. It can no longer be used in future criminal cases. In addition, its application may be applied retroactively to prior cases where defendants were sentenced under this federal statute section.
What It Means for You
If you received a longer sentence under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(B), you may be able to file a post-conviction motion to challenge your sentence.
Do you have questions on how the Davis decision could affect your sentence? Do you need assistance filing another post-conviction motion or an appeal of your criminal conviction? Our experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyers are here to help. Start a live chat or call our Fort Lauderdale office to schedule your free initial consultation. Be sure to ask about our payment plan, which can help you afford the legal representation that you need.