The Federal Armed Career Criminal Act provides for the enhancement of a defendant's sentence. If he or she is convicted of a federal firearms offense involving interstate or foreign commerce and has three previous convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses, as defined in the statute, in any court, he or she will be designated as an armed career criminal.
The effect of an Armed Career Criminal designation is that a defendant convicted of being a "felon in possession of a firearm" gets a mandatory minimum fifteen year sentence. Since the Supreme Court's decision in Begay v. United States there is now significant debate about what constitutes a violent felony. In the past, things such as failure to report, DUI, escape, burglary were considered violent offenses. Therefore, even persons with the qualifying number of felonies may be able to get out from under the designation based upon the recent Court's ruling. The analysis is hypertechnical and requires an experienced and skilled lawyer to advocate for you.
We attack our client's current case(s) from all angles, including:
- Examination of the firearm to see if it meets the charged offense
- Examination of where the gun was located, for suppression issues as well as its affect on the client's guidelines score
- Request stipulations by the Government to facts which support the client's position or require proof by clear and convincing evidence regarding enhancements sought by the Government
More importantly, we go through the client's entire criminal record looking to see if any of the client's prior crimes can be eliminated from consideration by the court. Some of the instances include:
- Were two prior convictions "related cases", crimes from the same act, occasion, or continuing act? * Was there no intervening arrest between the cases?
- Were the cases consolidated?
- Were they part of a single scheme or plan?
- Was the client sentenced prior to the current arrest?
- Did the prior arrest occur within the proper time frames?
- Was it a juvenile arrest?
- Where the crimes sealed, expunged, or pardoned?
If you have been arrested for a felon in possession of a firearm charge in the federal court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, give the federal criminal defense attorneys at Laguzzi Law, P.C. a call to discuss your case. The law in this area is evolving faster than any other area of federal sentencing law and there are many more areas of relief available to defendants than even two years ago. Therefore, it is important to have knowledgeable and creative lawyers working for you.
Listed below is the Armed Career section of Title 18 of the United States Code.
18 U.S.C.§ 924. Penalties
"(e)(1) In the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than fifteen years, and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not suspend the sentence of, or grant a probationary sentence to, such person with respect to the conviction under section 922(g)."
The statute provides that in addition to a minimum jail term, the sentence given to the defendant may not be suspended, nor may such a defendant be given a probationary sentence. The duration of a defendant's criminal career and his or her youthfulness are not considered in deciding whether the statute applies to the defendant.
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