Felony Possession of a Firearm

Felony possession of a firearm is a crime that can be tried at the state and Federal levels. However, for a person to be accused of this crime, they must be considered a “prohibited person.” According to Federal law 8 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1-9), a prohibited person is defined as any of the following:

  • A person convicted of a felony;
  • A fugitive from justice;
  • An illegal alien, including a person who renounces U.S. citizenship;
  • A person who has been committed to a mental institution in the past or deemed mentally ill;
  • A person who is the subject of a formal finding of abuse;
  • A person who is the subject of a Protection from Abuse order;
  • A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence;

If a person matching any of the above is found to be in possession of a firearm, they are charged with a felony. A conviction for felony possession of a firearm results in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

If there are three or more violent crime convictions, the mandatory minimum prison term is 15 years without the possibility of parole. Violent crimes include burglary, robbery, assault, drug trafficking and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Maine Law Versus Federal Law

Maine Law states that a person convicted of an offense that resulted in a sentence of more than one year can’t possess a firearm in any jurisdiction. Doing so can lead to a conviction of one year or more. It doesn’t matter if only one day was spent in jail, the fact a sentence could have resulted in one year served in prison means the prohibition is still in place.

As for Federal law, it is very similar to Maine law in that it prohibits a person who has been convicted of a crime that resulted in more than one year of imprisonment from possessing a firearm. Federal law extends to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Because both Maine and Federal law can come into play, it’s imperative for a defendant to understand his or her rights under both.

What About The Right To Bear Arms?

The U.S. Constitution and the Maine Constitution states that a person has the right to bear arms. However, there is a felon-in-possession statute that has been challenged throughout the years. Maine’s Supreme Court has upheld the statute, stating that the right of citizens to keep and bear arms was limited by “the common defense” and that allowing felons to possess firearms wouldn’t serve the common defense. Repeatedly, the Maine Supreme Court has upheld the felon-in-possession statute, which is why it has remained a felony to be a prohibited person possessing a firearm.

Been accused of illegally possessing a firearm? Contact the Law Office of Richard Berne at 207-871-7770 for a free consultation.