A tragic set of circumstances recently unfolded in the Dallas area that involved guns – and it turned out the person who riggered the circumstances shouldn’t have had guns in the first place.
A man took several hostages at a Texas synagogue recently. The weapons he used to commit this crime were sold to him by someone in illegal possession of the firearms, because he was a felon. He is now facing charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Are all felons ineligible to have a firearm or only certain ones?
What does it mean to be charged as a felon in possession of a firearm and what penalties can be faced?
ead on to find out.
Texas Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
It is illegal under both Texas law and federal law for felons to possess firearms, though it is a little different in Texas.
In the state, felons in Texas may not possess a firearm at any time in the five-year period after they’re convicted and released from either probation or prison. If they are caught, then they face criminal charges.
Federal Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
Under federal code, it is unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a crime that is punishable by at least one year in prison to transport, ship, or possess firearms or ammunition. However, it can also apply to those who have no prior felony conviction but are on the list of prohibited persons nonetheless.
It’s important to understand in the context of this law that possession is not the same thing as owning a gun. Possession simply means that they have a firearm at home, in their care, at work, or even in a storage locker – it doesn’t even need to be physically present in order to be charged. They simply must have access to it.
Who is a Prohibited Person?
A prohibited person under the law means anyone who is:
- A convicted felon
- Anyone who has committed a crime of domestic violence
- A fugitive
- Anyone who has denounced citizenship
- A person addicted to drugs
- Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
- Anyone who has been in a mental institution or suffers from a mental defect
- Anyone in the United State illegally
- Anyone who is subject to a restraining order
What the Government Must Prove
If you’re charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, the burden is on the prosecutors to show the jury or judge that (1) you are a felon (2) you possessed a forear. They do this by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Knowingly possessed a firearm
- The firearm had been shipped or otherwise transported from one state to another
- You knew you weren’t legally able to have a firearm
If you are convicted at the federal level of being a felon in possession of a firearm, then you can face as many as 10 years in a federal penitentiary. You also may be required to complete three years of supervised release and pay fines of as much as $250,000.
If you have three or more prior convictions for a violent felony or serious drug felony, however, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years attached to this crime.
This is a serious charge, so if you’re facing it, make sure to have an experienced lawyer on your side.