Articles Posted in Federal

In many instances, if a defendant is convicted of using a firearm during the commission of a crime, the court may impose increased penalties. Specifically, if a defendant is found guilty of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, federal law requires the defendant to be sentenced to imprisonment. In a recent case in which the defendant appealed his convictions, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington analyzed whether armed robbery constitutes a crime of violence. If you live in Washington and are charged with a weapons-related offense, you should meet with a seasoned Washington gun crime attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was a religious militant, and he and two co-conspirators committed two bank robberies and three bombings in support of their beliefs. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including possession of a grenade that was not registered, armed bank robbery, and use of a firearm during arson and armed bank robbery. A jury found the defendant guilty on multiple counts, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The defendant appealed, arguing that his four convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), for the use of a firearm during a crime of violence, should be vacated.

Armed Bank Robbery Constitutes a Crime of Violence

On appeal, the government conceded that the two 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) convictions arising out of the destruction of a building should be vacated, since they did not constitute crimes of violence. Thus, the salient issue on appeal was whether armed robbery constituted a crime of violence. Under federal law, bank robbery is defined as the act of taking or attempting to take any money or property that is in the bank’s custody, through the use of force, intimidation, or violence. If, during the course of a bank robbery, a defendant assaults another person or places another person’s life in danger by using a dangerous device or weapon, the crime constitutes armed bank robbery.

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Crime bosses always seem to have plenty of money.  I’m trying to think of one movie or series where the crime boss ran out of money.  Since he has plenty of money he always has the best lawyers.  I’ve been doing this 20 years.  If I’ve ever had a crime boss for a client he was too professional to let me know.

What I do know is that as soon as the Government charges you with a crime that would be an ongoing criminal enterprise, like being a drug dealer, embezzler, forger (think Catch Me If You Can) or all around crime boss, they also immediately, and sometimes before, seize or freeze all your assets.  So, once that happens it is too late to pay for the best lawyers.  Right when you need them finally.  All the fancy cars, houses, weapons, jewelry, etc are worthless (to you, the government agents are loving it all).  They are seized.  And you cannot afford a lawyer to get them back for you.  Continue reading

A famous song from the 1960s, borrowing from Jewish and Christian scriptures, states that there is a “time to every purpose under heaven.” Encounters with police can be like that. Which is to say, when interacting with the police, there is a time to be very forthcoming, and there is a time to refrain from speaking. Suffice it to say, whatever the specifics of your situation may be, the first thing you say when you encounter a law enforcement officer should probably not be, “I did it.” One man from southwestern Washington made that mistake in his case, a case in which the Washington Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

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You or a loved one has been accused of a crime involving firearms. To make matters worse, it is classified as a federal crime. You may be wondering what makes it a federal crime and what difference that makes. Once classified, the difference between state and federal crimes is different procedures and stiffer penalties; you need a defense attorney who is licensed with the federal court and understands these differences and the stakes involved. Keep in mind that Washington state also has its own firearm laws and if there was any suspected crime against Washington statutes that is not being classified as federal you may be facing additional charges and penalties.

There are several firearm crimes that are immediately considered federal. Selling firearms across state lines without a license to do so is a federal crime. Knowingly falsifying information to purchase firearms, known as straw purchases, is a federal crime. Distorting a serial number in any way is a federal crime. Possession of a firearm by certain persons is a federal crime. The list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm under federal guidelines is as follows: convicted felons, fugitives, addicts to illegal substances, those who have been committed to a mental institution, illegal aliens, those dishonorably discharged from the military, those who have given up US citizenship, anyone with a restraining order against them, and anyone that has been convicted of a crime with a domestic violence designation. Knowingly selling a firearm to anyone that would be in that grouping is also a federal crime. Usually federal firearms crimes carry a penalty of 5-10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. This is per offense so if there were multiple firearms involved the penalty would be multiplied by however many as each firearm is considered its own offense. Plus if the federal firearms crime is in connected with the committing of a violent crime there can be an additional 25 years in federal prison added on top of that.

You, or your loved one, need not give up hope. You have options for defense. The burden of proof is on the prosecution – they have to prove every element of the crime. Ask yourself some questions.  Is your charged based on the person to whom you sold the gun? And if so, did you only just now finding out that that person was not allowed a firearm? It is not a crime to be tricked or deceived.  Though it may be left to a jury to determine whether it is believable or not that you did not know. These kind of potential defense before a jury can win your case if you choose to have a trial.  They can also be used for leverage in negotiating.

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