It is a federal crime for a convicted felon to be in unlawful possession of a firearm, and the ordinary maximum sentence for that crime is 10 years of imprisonment. However, under the Armed Career Criminal Act (Act), a convicted felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm is subject to a 15-year minimum prison sentence if that individual has previously been convicted of a violent felony or serious drug offense. This federal Act has been enacted to specifically target the so called “armed career criminals” whose criminal history shows that they are more likely to deliberately point the gun and pull the trigger at an innocent person.
Under the Act, a serious drug offense may be an offense under state law involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, any controlled substance for which a maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more. An actual prison term of ten years is not required. Rather, the fact of conviction for such drug offense will be enough. Also, subsequent changes in state law cannot simply erase an earlier conviction for purposes of federal sentencing proceedings unless a conviction has been expunged or set aside, or an individual has been pardoned. Thus, it is critical to consult with an experience criminal defense lawyer, who will be able to provide an accurate legal advice as to the possibility of expunging prior criminal record.
A violent felony under the Act is a crime that has as an element of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person. As such, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary, arson, or extortion, are all considered qualifying offenses for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. In addition, courts usually take into account other felony convictions involving conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another. Most recently, the United States Supreme Court has held that a state conviction for vehicle flight is a violent felony under the Act because defendant’s determination to escape makes a lack of concern for the safety of others an inherently dangerous part of the offense.
The San Diego Law Office of Domenic J. Lombardo is dedicated to defending criminal charges in state, federal, and county courts throughout San Diego. For a free consultation, contact us at (619) 232-5122, or: [email protected].
For more information on drug crimes, see the following:
For more information on clearing criminal records, see the following:
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