It is estimated that 47.3% of Nevada adults own a gun, placing the state at higher levels of gun ownership than 29 other states in the U.S. This state requires anyone who purchases a firearm to undergo a background check and disqualifies anyone with a felony conviction from gun ownership. If you are charged with a felon in possession of a weapon crime, it is a serious offense within federal and Nevada state regulations.
A felony is the most severe crime classification in both federal and Nevada state courts. These crimes often include violence, but not always. This state separates felonies into five categories, ranging from most to least serious:
- Category A: Examples include sexual assault and first- or second-degree murder
- Category B: Examples include robbery and home invasion, as well as reckless driving that results in serious injury
- Category C: Examples include internet stalking, battery that results in serious injury and domestic violence
- Category D: Examples include forgery and involuntary manslaughter
- Category E: Examples include illegal drug possession
A felon charged with a crime falling under the last three categories can be instead charged with a gross misdemeanor (the second most serious crime) in Nevada, but it is up to the defense attorney to get the charge reduced. These types of crimes are known as wobbler crimes.
Federal Weapons Possession Law
According to Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 922(g), it is illegal for anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony punishable by a year or more in prison to have a firearm or ammunition. It does not matter when or where the crime occurred or whether the individual served a year or more in prison. The law also stipulates that a convicted felon cannot have a weapon in the household.
Federal Gun Law Exceptions
There are a few exceptions to the federal law banning weapons possessions for felons. People convicted of “white collar” felonies are exempted from the ban. White-collar crimes include convictions for insider trading, cybercrime, copyright infringement or other offenses related to business practices. Another exception is convictions for a crime committed outside of the United States, unless it occurs within a U.S. territory.
Federal Weapons Possession Penalties
Individuals who are tried and convicted in the Nevada Federal court system face imprisonment of up to 10 years in federal prison. A convicted felon may also have to pay fines in addition to serving time. People who receive their third conviction for a felony offense involving violence may face up to 15 years in prison without the opportunity for parole.
Nevada Weapons Possession Law
This state has its own gun ban law, Nevada Revised Statute 202.360. Like federal law, the statute prohibits specific individuals from possessing a weapon, whether inside their home or out. The law stipulates that all gun types are included, such as:
- Semi-automatic weapons
The condition of the gun also doesn’t matter. A person can be charged as a felon in possession of a weapon even if the firearm is unloaded or broken.
The law regulates weapons possession for more than just individuals who have committed a felony offense and includes illegal aliens, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, people who use illicit drugs and anyone prevented from owning a gun under federal law. People can also be charged with illegal gun possession if they carry a gun into expressly prohibited environments, such as schools and public service buildings.
Nevada Weapons Possession Penalties
Anyone charged as a felon in possession of a weapon in the Nevada court system faces less severe penalties than in the federal system. A conviction carries penalties of one to six years in a Nevada state prison and a fine of up to $5,000. It is important to note that a person can be charged for possession at both the state and the federal levels. This would mean that it is possible to receive a total of 16 years imprisonment plus fines.
The law allocates penalties based on the severity of the crime originally committed that prevented gun ownership — the more severe the crime, the harsher the maximum prison sentence. The judge has the discretion to determine how much to charge in fines, regardless of what category the crime fell under.
Felon in Possession of a Weapon Defense Options
Anyone charged with illegal possession needs a defense attorney who specializes in criminal defense. The attorney examines the facts of the case to determine what line of defense is likely to have the best outcomes for the accused. Four options commonly used are:
- The defendant is allowed to possess a weapon: In this instance, the attorney argues that the defendant is essentially not guilty of the crime. It may be that the felony was a white-collar crime, or perhaps the felon received a pardon for the felony that stipulated a restoration of gun rights.
- The defendant did not have a gun: The accusation may have been made in error, and the defendant did not actually have possession of a firearm. It could be that the weapon was in the hands of someone else unrelated to the defendant.
- The police obtained the weapon through an illegal search: If the police conduct an unlawful search, then the defendant’s attorney can request that the court suppress the gun as evidence, leaving the prosecutors without a primary piece of evidence.
- There is a lack of sufficient evidence: A person is innocent until proven guilty, even if that person is a convicted felon. An attorney may argue that there isn’t enough evidence to meet the threshold of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is important to note that ignorance of the law is not a viable defense.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Illegal Weapons Possession Charge
If you are charged for illegal possession of a firearm and have a prior felony conviction, Nevada defense attorney C. Benjamin Scroggins, Esquire, is here to help. He is an attorney with 20 years of criminal defense in the Las Vegas area and a track record of assisting clients in receiving the best outcome. Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation.