Convicted felons arrested for possession of a firearm may face significant charges and penalties. Any felon charged with possession of a firearm could be punished with up to 10 years in prison. Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, felons will face additional penalties if the firearm was used to commit a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. Convicted felons who are arrested and charged with possession of a firearm need experienced advocacy and defense throughout sentencing and at suppression hearings.These cases often raise complicated issues of Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights, which can be used to suppress illegally obtained evidence in court.
Fourth Amendment rights apply to all citizen and can be invoked in the event that a law enforcement officer searches your person, car, home, or other private property. OurBirmingham criminal defense attorneys are experienced in the investigation of criminal allegations and in providing aggressive, strategic defense to our clients. When a defendant faces criminal charges, we will review the facts to determine if evidence was illegally obtained. In the event of a 4thAmendment violation, our legal team will seek to suppress the evidence.
Felons facing possession charges should consider a defense based on 4th Amendment violations. In United States v. Guzman, a defendant asserts that he did not give law enforcement officers the right to search his car. If he succeeds on this point, the officers cannot use the firearm to demonstrate that he was a felon in possession. If the prosecution is unable to use this pivotal evidence because of a Constitutional breach, the charges will likely be dismissed. According to court documents, the officers arrived at a home based on a tip that methamphetamines were being sold there. The defendant was sitting in his vehicle when officers struck up a conversation with him. The defendant admitted he had only recently been released from prison. The police asked the defendant if they could search his car for drugs. He agreed they could search the car for drugs, then admitted there was a handgun in the car. The officers found the gun in the driver's seat, but did not find drugs in the car or on the defendant. The defendant did not give the officers the right to search his car for a gun, and is seeking to suppress the evidence, including the seized gun because it was obtained in violation of the defendant's 4th Amendment rights.
The defendant pleaded not guilty and at a suppression hearing the officer claimed he was given consent, but then added that even without consent, he had probable cause to search the vehicle. The defendant asserts the officer only said, “I'm going to search your car,” while the officer claims that he asked for permission. The results of this case hinge on whether the officer had permission to search the vehicle or if he did so without permission. The court has remanded the case to determine whether the police officer asked the defendant for consent to search his car.
Any criminal allegation involving the search of a person, car, home, office or other private property should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Many cases involving drugs, firearms, and possession charges will require proof of consent, probable cause or a warrant. Any defendant can challenge the underlying charges if an officer seized evidence without adhering to established 4th Amendment search and seizure practices.
Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole can be reached at (866) 831-5292.