Title 18 of the United States Code is where federal firearm laws are found, including violations of Transporting a Firearm to Commit a Felony, or Receipt of a Firearm with Intent to Commit a Felony. The statute reads:
“Whoever, with intent to commit therewith an offense (felony)… ships, transports, or receives a firearm or any ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
A “firearm” is what we commonly call a “gun” or a “weapon.” It can be a handgun or rifle, and it must be capable of expelling a projectile (bullet) when fired. The definition of a firearm in the U.S. Code is:
“The term “firearm” means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.”
Prosecuted in Federal Court
Possessions of firearms are commonly referred for federal prosecution. Charges in federal court can produce harsher sentences than state court prosecutions due to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. If the person who transported or received a firearm has a felony conviction, that could result in the federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (“BATF” or “ATF”) regularly checks arrests for persons with a weapon. ATF agents do this to determine if the person is a felon, or to refer other cases to the U.S. Attorney for federal prosecution, including transportation or receipt of a firearm with intent to commit a felony.
Transportation of a Firearm
Transportation can be in several forms. It is common for a person to be arrested for this charge when a firearm is found on him/her or in the car. A firearm can be transported by bus, airlines, common carrier, or by the defendant in his car. A key element the government must prove is that the firearm was “transported.”
Taking Possession / Receipt of the Firearm
Another element the government must prove is receipt of the firearm, or possession or control, if the allegation is that the person had a firearm transported for his use. For example, the government might allege that a person bought a firearm to threaten or rob someone. So, it would have to prove that when the person received the firearm, he had a plan or intent to carry out the crime. Absent admissions or statements about a plan, the government would have to find evidence of a threat, plan, or actual robbery soon after receiving the firearm. Whether the person possessed or received the firearm to commit a felony often depends on the circumstances.
If the firearm is found in someone else’s car in which he is riding, or in someone else’s home where the defendant is located, then the government would have to rely on a variety of circumstances. If a firearm is found on a person, in his luggage, or in his car with no passenger, then the evidence would be easier for the government to prove receipt or possession. Also, the requirement of transportation or receipt is based upon possession, not ownership, of the firearm.
For the Purpose of Committing a Felony
Allegations for fraudulent insurance claims are often those made that increase the damage amount beyond the real damages. Sometimes claims are created when no damage occurred. Fraud can also be based upon false statements to an insurance company when these are additional information to the claim.
Intent to Commit a Felony
A person’s intent to commit a felony is often determined by his actions and other circumstances surrounding him. Although transporting or carrying a firearm is not in itself enough to prove that a person intended to commit a crime, other facts are often considered. Such facts can be the reason of traveling, admissions, emails referencing making contact, previous dealings, and statements, emails, or text messages stating an intention or acknowledging a plan.
If you are being investigated or have been arrested for firearms violations, contact former federal prosecutor John Teakell. Mr. Teakell will use his experience to defend against firearm charges or any criminal case.