DC Gun Penalties

Law enforcement strictly enforces severe DC gun penalties. Even minor gun offenses could result in a year in jail, and for more severe violations, the maximum penalties can be three, five, ten, or more years in incarceration.

Many firearm offenses carry mandatory minimum penalties even if no violent or aggressive conduct occurred. For instance, the law prohibits someone with a prior felony conviction from possessing a firearm. If law enforcement finds this person possessing a weapon, they could face a mandatory minimum a one-year jail sentence.

Gun law punishments generally start somewhat severe and become increasingly severe as a gun holder moves to more serious offenses. Because of the complex gun laws and strict penalties, you are facing a firearm charge, you should speak with an experienced gun attorney immediately.

Factors Influencing Penalties

The main factors that influence DC firearm penalties are the conduct, behavior, and characteristics of the offender. Gun violations that are less impactful, disruptive, and dangerous may carry less severe penalties. For instance, someone charged with illegally possessing a firearm may result in less jail time or a lower fine than an offense such as the commission of a crime of violence with a firearm.

The identity of the offender is another factor that could affect the type of punishment they receive. For example, a person with no criminal record may face a less serious penalty than someone with a felony conviction. Another influential factor is the weapon itself. If the firearm is an illegal type of weapon, such as an automatic rifle, or if it has been illegally modified, these conditions may increase the type of gun penalty issued.

Other factors that influence the penalties, besides their criminal history, include the specific behavior of the person being charged. Was the gun being used to commit some other offense? Is the gun registered in another jurisdiction? Does the individual have a permit to carry that gun in another jurisdiction? Is the individual a law-abiding productive member of society and the community? Or is this somebody who appears to be in trouble frequently? The prosecutors and the court take these factors into consideration when it comes time to determine the penalty for a specific gun case.

Gun-Free Zones

The location that a person that is found illegally possessing a firearm makes a difference in the DC gun consequences they could face. If law enforcement finds a person illegally possessing a gun in a gun-free zone, this could severely increase the consequences they may suffer. Gun-free zones are areas that the law prohibits possession of guns, even if a person is licensed and registered to possess a firearm. These zones include a 1,000-foot area surrounding various public facilities, including public schools, public parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, recreational centers, and public housing. For a gun offense committed in a gun-free zone, the maximum penalties double.

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

A misdemeanor gun offense in the DC does not typically involve any mandatory incarceration, whereas a felony firearm offense has mandatory prison time in most cases. In all felony gun charge cases, there is the very real possibility of time in jail or prison as a consequence. That is the basic difference between misdemeanor and felony offenses; the possibility of significant incarceration time. There are also additional fines and fees associated with felony offenses. In addition, any conviction for a firearms offense in the District of Columbia will result in the requirement that the defendant register as a gun offender on the District of Columbia gun offender registry.

Impact of a Misdemeanor

The penalty for misdemeanor unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first offense. For a second offense, it becomes a felony matter and the penalty jumps up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. For misdemeanors, the penalty is one year and a $1,000 fine. For unlawful possession of ammunition, the penalty is also a one-year maximum jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. There are no mandatory jail terms for those misdemeanor charges.

Immediate Penalties After a Conviction

When the court convicts someone of gun crime, there may be additional gun penalties in DC. In addition to potential jail time, fines, and probation or other restrictions directly resulting from the sentence, there also are collateral consequences.

One of these collateral consequences that an offender may face is a requirement to add their name to the gun offender registry. Within 48 hours of their sentence, an offender must register with the police by providing fingerprints, identifying information, and updated contact information so the police can monitor their whereabouts upon release. If someone on the gun offender registry commits a firearm-related crime, they could face increased penalties.

A gun crime conviction may impact a person’s employment, their gun school enrollment, and their personal relationships. A person convicted of a gun offense also may have to turn in their weapons to law enforcement.

Long Term Consequences

Someone who has been convicted of a firearms offense will have to register as a gun offender, which is information that can be accessed by the public. It also looks bad on someone’s record. Having a felony conviction for a gun offense can have serious consequences if the defendant gets in trouble again because their criminal record will have a serious weapons offense on it.

The penalties for any future convictions could be greatly enhanced. Anyone who is convicted of a gun offense in Washington, DC can also expect to be placed on probation and be assigned a probation officer. They will not be able to possess firearms while they are on probation and most likely even afterward, depending upon which crime they were convicted of.

A conviction also has long-lasting consequences for current and future employment in the District of Columbia. Many clients have security clearances or work with government agencies, so a conviction for a firearms offense can have significant negative consequences for their employment, their ability to get security clearances, and their ability to get future contracts. Particularly in the District, it is very important to know all of the possible ramifications for a conviction for a gun offense.

Contact an Attorney to Learn More About Gun Penalties in DC

An attorney could help a person facing a firearm-related charge in many ways, including help navigating and understanding the complex and technical gun laws. A lawyer also could investigate a defendant’s background and situation to determine if there are mitigating factors that may help in negotiations. An attorney may assess any procedural violations by the prosecutor that could help the defendant’s case or could be used in negotiations to get a favorable outcome.

Anybody facing DC gun penalties is facing severe consequences because gun laws in the district are serious and enforced aggressively. The best way to try to avoid these consequences as much as possible is to employ an attorney. If you have been charged with a firearm crime, contact an attorney for a consultation on your case.