Federal firearms cases rose more than 8%, holding on to the third-most-common federal crime in the fiscal year 2021 (FY2021).
According to statistics from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), there were 8,151 federal firearms cases in FY2021, 612 more than the previous year.
Federal firearms charges are serious matters, potentially leading to decades behind bars. At Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC in Orange County, we aggressively defend our clients against federal charges. If you find yourself in legal trouble, call on us. We’re available 24 hours a day, every day.
Firearms Charges Compared to Other Federal Crimes
Firearms and drug cases increased while most others decreased. Over the last decade, federal crimes saw a peak in 2012 with 84,173 cases. FY2021 marks the lowest number of offenders in that period with 57,287 cases.
The following is a breakdown of the prevalence of federal crimes in FY2021:
- Drugs (31.3%)
- Immigration (29.6)
- Firearms (14.2%)
- Fraud/Theft Embezzlement (8%)
- Robbery (2.3%)
- Child Pornography (2.1%)
- Sexual Abuse (1.9%)
- Money Laundering (1.8%)
- All Other Cases Combined (8.9%)
Firearms crimes include the following:
- Unlaw possession or transportation of firearms or ammunition
- Unlawful trafficking in explosives
- Possession of guns or explosives in a federal facility, a school, or on an aircraft
- Use of firearms or explosives to commit a felony
- Use of firearms or ammunition during a crime
During this reporting period, 8.5% of firearms offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty. Most charges required a five-year minimum federal prison sentence. About 16.5% of offenses mandated a 7-year minimum sentence, and 14.5% were convicted of a firearms charge with a mandatory 10 years or longer sentence.
There are five primary firearms guidelines:
- Unlawful Receipt, Possession, or Transportation of Firearms or Ammunition; Prohibited Transactions Involving Firearms or Ammunition
- Unlawful Receipt, Possession, or Transportation of Explosive Materials
- Use of Firearm During or in Relation to Certain Crimes
- Arson or Property Damage by Use of Explosives
- Possession of Firearm or Dangerous Weapon in Federal Facility or in School Zone
In FY2020, the average sentence for all felony firearm possession offenders was 62 months.
Characteristics of Federal Firearms Offenders
In looking at all firearms offenders in FY2021, the USSC reported that nearly all (96.3%) were U.S. citizens and male. More than half of the cases (55.2%) were Black offenders, followed by White offenders at 24.1% and Hispanic offenders at 17.4%. Almost two-thirds of offenders were 35 years old or younger.
The educational level of firearms offenders was as follows:
- 35.7% did not complete high school
- 46.4% completed high school
- 17.9% attended or completed college
The Armed Career Criminal Act
The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) provides for a 15-year minimum sentence for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) by offenders with three or more previous convictions, committed on different occasions, for a violent felony or serious drug offense or both. Almost 85% of armed career criminals had prior convictions for violent crimes. The median time between arrests was 16 months.
Armed career criminals comprise a very small portion of federal cases. Armed career offenders in FY2019 received an average sentence of 206 months, just over 17 years. Those who provided substantial assistance to the government received shorter sentences, averaging about 116 months. Almost all armed career criminals were male U.S. citizens.
In addition to ACCA, two other provisions allow for even more time behind bars. Anyone classified as a career offender under §4B1.1 can get another year-plus up to life in prison added to their base sentence. Section 924(c) provides incremental, consecutive mandatory minimum penalties for the use, carrying, or possession of a firearm during a violent or drug trafficking crime. Depending on the circumstances, anywhere between give and 30 years can be added to a sentence.
Federal Firearms Charges Are Serious Matters
If you face federal firearms charges, your best defense is a good offense. Our founding attorneys have focused their entire careers on criminal law, including time as prosecutors. Unlike many criminal defense attorneys, our team understands both the prosecutorial and defense sides.
We understand what is at stake – your reputation, your career, your relationships, and your freedom. Our tenacity and legal know-how aim to get charges dropped or reduced, engaging in all appropriate legal tactics to minimize any potential penalty.
Looking at federal firearms charges? Contact us right away. Call (949) 251-0330. We’re available to take your call 24/7.