Gun Trafficking Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
Broward County, Florida Weapons Defense Firm
Surprisingly, there is no federal law against gun trafficking on the books in the United States. Yet it is still possible for a defendant to be charged with a gun-trafficking offense in federal court. Although the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) does not specifically address gun trafficking, the federal government often uses the act as a basis to charge suspected gun runners. Even if a case does not neatly fall under the classification of one of the GCA’s subsections, Florida prosecutors have other means of applying other federal gun laws to instances that appear to involve trafficking. For this reason alone, it is imperative that you contact a Fort Lauderdale gun trafficking defense attorney immediately after being charged.
Gun Control Act of 1968
The Gun Control Act was passed in the late 1960s by Congress in an effort to help state and local governments better enforce firearms laws. While the GCA does not directly address gun trafficking in an overarching manner, federal prosecutors often apply one of two subsections contained within the law to cases that do not involve the sale and importation of guns in an official commercial capacity. The first subsection prohibits owning, operating, or otherwise engaging in the business of dealing firearms without being properly licensed. The second subsection prohibits travel to another state for the purpose of illegally purchasing a firearm. Federal law also bans the possession of certain illegal firearms. The following examples are weapons that everyday civilians are prohibited from possessing:
- machine guns;
- semi-automatic assault weapons;
- firearms that cannot be detected by a metal detector;
- sawed-off shotguns;
- sawed-off rifles;
- large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Straw purchasing involves one person buying an item on behalf of another person who is unwilling or unable to do the transaction personally. Straw purchases are not inherently illegal. However, the process is often used for prohibited purposes, including purchasing guns for people who are not legally able to buy firearms for themselves. Federal law makes it illegal for an individual to go to a federally-licensed firearm dealership and lie about the identity of the person who will ultimately possess the gun purchased from the dealership. Illegal straw purchases often take place when the ultimate owner of the gun is unable to do the transaction due to:
- felony conviction;
- domestic violence conviction;
- being under the age of 21;
- mental illness.
Related crimes and penalties
In many cases, the federal government can find a way to prosecute an individual who is suspected of trafficking guns by pursuing related criminal charges. An individual who assumes the role of delivering guns to a criminal organization prior to the organization committing a planned violent act may be charged with using, possessing, or carrying a firearm in the furtherance of a federal crime of violence. Selling, delivering, or transferring a firearm to a juvenile in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in Florida may be punishable by up to one year imprisonment, unless the transferror knew or had reason to know the juvenile would commit an act of violence with the firearm or ammunition, in which case, the penalty may include up to 10 years in prison. Knowingly possessing or manufacturing an illegal firearm carries a sentence of five to 10 years imprisonment. Straw purchasers or those who otherwise supply firearms to those who are prohibited from owning a weapon may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Defenses to a federal gun trafficking charge
For criminal defense attorneys, the approach to defending a client against a federal gun trafficking accusation depends heavily on the facts of the case. Because prosecutors often pursue charges against people who are suspected of trafficking from different angles, the actual arguments the defense may raise can vary greatly from case to case. A firearms dealer who is accused of selling a gun to someone who is not legally permitted to own a gun may argue he or she was unaware that the gun would end up in the hands of a prohibited gun owner, or he or she may produce paperwork indicating that the individual to whom he or she sold the gun appeared to be legally able to purchase a firearm. A person who is charged with supplying a firearm to a minor may argue the individual misrepresented his or her age by using fake identity documents or otherwise convincingly presenting him or herself as an adult.
Contacting a weapons defense attorney
Federal cases that involve guns are of a very serious nature. Therefore, individuals who merely suspect they may be under investigation should immediately contact a Florida defense attorney who has a successful track record with handling federal gun charges. A recent push to increase federal legislation to regulate gun ownership and trafficking has led to courts becoming stricter in their treatment of cases that involve current gun laws. Contacting a lawyer early in the investigative process can help those who have been identified as persons of interest protect themselves from constitutional violations and accidental self-incrimination. In addition to being present during conversations with law enforcement in Fort Lauderdale, a gun defense lawyer can provide the knowledge, guidance, and support people need when facing the criminal justice system at the federal level. Consulting with a Broward County weapons trafficking defense attorney is as simple as making a call and receiving a free, confidential case evaluation. Therefore, no one who may potentially face federal charges in Florida should forego the benefits of enlisting the help of an experienced gun trafficking lawyer.