Minimum and Maximum Penalties in DC Gun Cases

Gun charges in DC can be serious and they have a wide range of possible penalties associated with them that a person should quickly defend themselves against. When a gun-related offense in DC involves another crime, it is not simply possession of the gun, but it usually results in a guideline-required prison sentence. There are sentencing guidelines the judges consult in the District just like the federal court.

There are mandatory minimum penalties, as well as maximum penalties that can be issued in DC gun cases, and it is important to know what to expect if you are facing charges. To best know how to strongly defend yourself against DC gun penalties, it is essential to work with a skilled DC gun attorney right away.

Mandatory Minimums

The mandatory minimum penalty in a DC gun case varies depending on the specific crime. For example, when someone accused of assault with a deadly weapon uses a firearm, they must serve time in prison. That is not necessarily written into the assault with a deadly weapon statute. There are certain statutes that have specific mandatory minimum penalties when a gun is used. Some statutes give an individual one year for a felon in possession. There is a one-year mandatory minimum depending on whether the person has a prior offense. The penalty could increase to two, three, four, or five years depending on the statute.

There is no mandatory minimum penalty for a misdemeanor gun offense in DC. When an individual is convicted of a possession of an unregistered firearm, there is no mandatory jail sentence on a misdemeanor offense. However, almost all felony gun offenses involve some form of mandatory time.


An exception to the mandatory penalty is an office of carrying a pistol without a license. If an individual does not have a prior criminal history, that offense does not mandate any minimum time in prison. However, if the person has prior criminal offenses on their record the offense most likely elevates to felon in possession with mandatory time. When it is just a misdemeanor and adding those up, that could put the person in a position on the sentencing guidelines where the judge might feel compelled to give them a prison sentence even though there is no mandatory prison sentence.

Maximum Penalty

The maximum penalty allowed in DC for gun-related offenses depends on the specific offense. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor possession of an unregistered firearm is one year in jail. For unlawful possession of a firearm, also called felon in possession, the maximum penalty could be 10 years in prison unless the person has a prior conviction that is a crime of violence as defined in the statute. In which case, the maximum goes up to 15 years in prison. That is for a felon in possession.

There are other statutes specific to unlawful discharge of a firearm that can be a misdemeanor. For carrying a pistol without a license, the maximum possible penalty is 10 years. There are different penalties for specific gun laws.

Aggravated Offenses

When an individual uses a firearm during the commission of another crime, that elevates the penalty of the crime. A robbery turns into armed robbery and the penalty for that crime is significantly higher. In addition, the government in DC can charge the individual with possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, depending on the crime.

Burglary, robbery, and drug distribution are defined as crimes of violence. In addition to facing enhanced penalties for the crime, the person also faces a separate crime, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. The penalty for possession of a firearm during a crime of violence is not less than five years and the maximum imprisonment for that crime is up to 15 years.

The use of a firearm during the commission of another crime subjects a person to a mandatory minimum of five years for the possession of a firearm for a crime of violence in addition to whatever they face for the crime itself. Robbery, assault with intent to kill, and assault with a deadly weapon are separate crimes that have their own penalties. Someone who uses a firearm in the commission of one of those crimes can expect to receive prison time. Because the minimum and maximum penalties can range so greatly, it is important to work with a DC gun attorney as soon as possible for those facing charges.

Impact of Conviction

Anyone convicted of a gun offense in DC is required to register on the gun offender registry maintained by the Metropolitan Police Department. Even if an individual is not a resident of DC, they must register. When someone is a resident of DC, they must return at least yearly to verify that they have not moved. When a person does move and they are a resident of DC and on the gun offender registry, they must notify the authorities within a certain amount of time. The authorities need to keep track of the person. That is a bit of an additional penalty because of the registry requirements. No one wants to be listed on the gun offender registry.

Anyone convicted of a felony faces the loss of some of their constitutional rights. An individual could lose the right to hold public office, the right to vote, and the right to legally purchase other firearms. In general, a conviction of a gun offense is considered a violent crime in almost every other jurisdiction and by potential employers and the government. A conviction of a gun offense creates problems for the individual if they are ever in trouble with the law. The conviction can create problems for the individual depending on their career field. For example, security clearances can be compromised. This is an important issue in the District of Columbia because there are so many federal agencies and contractors who work in DC.

They are not direct penalties in a sense of what a court orders an individual to do besides the gun offender registry. But they are indeed penalties because of negative consequences an individual could face for a conviction of a gun offense.