Weapons charges are often prosecuted aggressively, and those defending against them should understand the severity of the charges and the possible penalties. Under Missouri law, anyone who has committed a felony cannot knowingly possess a firearm. This includes people who were convicted for felonies committed in another state.

If a person who has been charged and convicted of a felony is found with a firearm, the person can be charged with a Class C felony, face a 10-year prison sentence and have to pay a $5,000 fine. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, the Western District of Missouri ranked number one in country in 2012 for number of cases involving a felon in possession of a firearm, coming in at 187. Nationwide, 95.6 percent of offenders were sentenced to prison time.

Even if a convicted felon is found with a firearm, there are defense options. The law states that the person cannot not knowingly possess the firearm, so in some cases, it may be possible to mount a defense based on the claim that the defendant did not know that the firearm was on the premises.

Anytime someone is facing weapons charges, proper defense representation is key. There may be times when the evidence can and should be challenged or the police procedures during the arrest called into question. Having someone who is familiar with the court process, as well as the prosecutors and judge involved in the case, to walk you through what to expect and the possible outcomes can make the experience less intimidating and help ensure your rights are protected.

Source: United States Sentencing Commission, “Quick Facts: Felon in Possession of a Firearm” Aug. 31, 2014