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.