The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives all U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. Unfortunately, lawmakers have decided that this right doesn’t apply to several large categories of people, including those who have been indicted or convicted of a state or federal felony.
Federal law prohibits you from possessing a firearm if you were indicted for or convicted of a crime punishable with more than a year in prison. Alabama state law prohibits possession of a “pistol” (defined as any gun with a barrel of less than 12 inches) by anyone convicted of a violent crime. It doesn’t matter whether your sentence was suspended, how long it’s been since you served your time or how you used the gun. Even if you only intended to go hunting, you could spend up to 10 years in prison.
At Alabama Criminal Lawyers, we understand that guns are a Constitutional right, a useful tool and a necessity for hunters, security officials, hobbyists and others in Alabama. Many people don’t realize that restrictions on these and other lawful activities involving firearms don’t end after parole.
But nobody should go to prison over a misunderstanding. That’s why we aggressively defend gun charges from both federal felon-in-possession charges and Alabama state charges of possessing a pistol after conviction for a violent crime. If you’re facing these charges, call us as soon as possible for help.
Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.
Both federal and state law prohibits certain people from possessing firearms, but federal law is broader and harsher. The federal criminal code applies to people who have been indicted for, or convicted of, any state or federal crime that carries a penalty of more than a year in prison. That is, the law applies before you’ve even been convicted, and it applies regardless of how much time you’ve served. Federal law also places the same restrictions on people who are subject to a restraining order, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and those who were dishonorably discharged from the military.
If the federal law applies to you, you may not possess a firearm or ammunition that’s crossed state lines to get to you, or transport, ship or receive a firearm across state lines. That’s important because, in order to prove their case against you, prosecutors must prove that the gun was transported across state lines at some time before you possessed it. They must also show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew the gun was in your home, car or other property. That is, if a family member hid a gun in your home without your knowledge, you don’t possess it, legally speaking.
Alabama state law is narrower. It prohibits anyone convicted of a violent crime from possessing a pistol, defined as any firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches long. That means a pellet gun may be prohibited, but a long-barreled shotgun is permitted. Under the law, crimes of violence are actual or attempted:
Alabama gun owners are proud to avail themselves of their federal Second Amendment rights, as well as those spelled out in the Constitution of Alabama.
But anyone who possesses a gun in the state needs to be informed of both their rights and responsibilities under state law. He or she must also understand that while there are certain instances in which possession of a firearm alone could be a crime – depending on the person, the type of weapon or the location of that weapon — most firearm offenses involve improper or irresponsible use.
Other crimes committed with the use of a gun are almost always going to have enhanced penalties when compared to what the sentence might have been had the crime been committed without a gun. It could even mean the difference between a crime being charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
In many cases, your intention could matter as much as the actual outcome. Proving or disproving one’s intentions in a criminal firearms-related matter is a tough task, best left to an experienced Alabama defense attorney.
The stakes can be high, with the most severe penalties including either life in prison or even the death sentence.
Alabama weapons laws are found in Alabama Code 13A, Chapter 11, Article 3.
It’s unlawful in Alabama to sell, give, deliver or lend a handgun to anyone who is under the age of 18 or to a person whom the seller has reasonable cause to believe has been convicted of a violent crime, is a drug addict or alcoholic or who is of unsound mind. Dealers must be licensed, though private sales are permitted.
In order to possess a concealed weapon, Section 13A-11-50 requires that a person have a state permit. Absent this, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a sentence of up to six months in jail. One possible defense to this would be to provide evidence that he or she had good reason. This could be considered a mitigating factor for sentencing purposes or sometimes even a complete justification.
Even having a license to conceal carry does not authorize you to carry your gun into the following places:
The only type of gun that is expressly prohibited by state law is a shotgun or rifle fashioned to look like a walking cane. Possession of a weapon like this could result in a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $1,000.
If you use your firearm while fighting in a public place – except in cases of self-defense – you will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. That’s assuming no one was actually hurt.
If you fire into a dwelling, vehicle or school – even if said place is unoccupied – you face a potential Class B felony, which is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
Also, anytime you commit a felony offense or a crime of violence with a firearm, you can expect to be facing a greater amount of time in prison.
Alabama is perhaps one of the most permissive states in terms of gun rights. However, prosecutors will come down hard on those who commit a crime with firearms.
Weapons offenses in the state of Alabama are substantial crimes particularly when juveniles are involved. These offenses are not limited to just guns but can also include bats, knives, tire irons, and various other types of weapons. These crimes if not handled correctly have the potential to impact a child’s educational and occupational prospects. Fortunately, many individuals dealing with juvenile weapons charges find that having a strong and competent Birmingham criminal defense attorney can significantly help the case and reduce any potential negative results. It is imperative that individuals also understand several details about how weapons charges occur in the state of Alabama.
There are a variety of laws in the state of Alabama that addresses minors and weapon possession. These laws include the following:
Established in 1995, Birmingham’s Juvenile Gun Court hears crimes that involve minors and weapons. The Juvenile Gun Court hears a variety of cases including weapons that were part of another primary charge, possession a firearm in an unlawful way, using a gun to frighten or harass someone, firing a gun near people into a residence, and using a gun to commit a murder.
The Juvenile Gun Court holds detention hearings for individuals who are arrested within 72 hours. The Juvenile Gun Court also holds trials within ten working days. Given the highly specialized nature of the Birmingham Juvenile Gun Court, it is essential that minors who face gun crimes in Birmingham retain the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Juvenile courts tend to sentence juveniles who are charged with weapon-related offenses in a manner that promotes rehabilitation rather than punishment. Although juvenile courts have wide discretion in deciding how to penalize a juvenile some of the most common sentences include community service, detention, probation and/or possible detention. In serious juvenile cases involving weapons-related charges, juveniles might even be tried as adults.
At Alabama Criminal Lawyers, we believe that everyone is entitled to a vigorous and thorough defense, regardless of the charges against them or past mistakes. We have helped clients throughout Alabama beat or reduce serious criminal charges, including charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
We will look for any flaws or unproven allegations in the case against you that could result in the entire case being dismissed. When that’s not possible, our office can help you negotiate for reduced charges, knowing that these charges often result from a simple misunderstanding of the law rather than criminal behavior or intent.
If it’s necessary or appropriate to go to trial, our office will work hard to make sure the prosecution truly proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And because we offer free initial consultations, there’s no risk in consulting us for a legal opinion on your case.
Contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers today at (205) 981-2450 for a free consultation.