Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail, while felonies are considered to be more serious crimes and are generally punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
Additionally, there are crimes against property, and crimes against a person. Crimes against property generally involve crimes directed at someone’s home; however, they also include crimes against personal property. Crimes against the person involve bodily harm or injury to a person.
Felony crimes against property include:
- Robbery; and
- False pretenses.
Felony crimes against the person include, among others:
- False imprisonment;
- Manslaughter; and
- Felony murder, which is murder that takes place when defendant is committing an inherently dangerous felony. Inherently dangerous felonies include rape, robbery, burglary, arson, and kidnapping.
Many criminal offenses can be classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In terms of crimes against property, the more significant the destruction to property or the value of property stolen, the more likely it is that the crime is a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
In terms of crimes against the person, the more serious the harm the more likely the crime is considered to be a felony. Factors that make the classification of the crime a felony include:
- The use of force;
- The use of a weapon; and/or
- Committing the crime against a child, elderly individual, or member of law enforcement.
What Are The General Punishments For Felonies?
A person who is convicted of a felony faces prison time of over one year, as well as fines and penalties. They may be ordered to pay restitution, which involves paying a victim for losses caused by the defendant’s commission of the felony.
An example of this would be if a defendant commits the felony of aggravated battery, and the victim suffers extensive injuries requiring medical treatment. The defendant can be ordered to pay restitution by covering the cost of the medical bills.
There are some instances in which the defendant can be sued in civil court by the victim. The victim may be able to recover monetary damages for:
- Physical and mental injuries;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Medical expenses.
Commission of a felony carries additional penalties. An example of this would be how a person who commits a sex offense felony, such as rape or child pornography possession, may be required to register as a sex offender. Additionally, in many states, those who commit felonies forfeit the right to vote.
Many states also have laws prohibiting released felons from engaging in activity that is otherwise considered to be lawful. An example of this would be how many states terminate professional licenses such as law licenses, and permits such as firearms permits.
Can Felons Own A Firearm? What Weapons Can A Felon Own?
To reiterate, when a person is convicted of a felony, they can lose several rights such as the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm.
There are multiple reasons for this, such as:
- If the person was convicted of a violent felony, especially one involving a firearm, prohibiting them from owning one may help prevent a repeat offense; and
- It could serve as a deterrent for people who commit felony crimes.
It is important to note that there may be some differences between state and federal felony sentencing guidelines, as well as a loss of privileges such as the right to own a firearm. Additionally, there may be different definitions in terms of what a firearm is, such as a handgun vs. a flare gun. There may also be exceptions in terms of white collar felony crimes.
While people who are convicted of a felony generally cannot own a firearm, they may sometimes be able to own other types of weapons. This is because they still have a right to protect themselves and their homes using certain weapons, which can vary by state law. Examples include, but may not be limited to:
- Knives with blades under a specified length;
- Crossbows or bows and arrows; and
- Pellet guns.
It is imperative to note that convicted felons must still obey any laws or restrictions associated with these types of weapons.
Additionally, the above list can still allow felons the ability to go hunting. The purpose of barring felons from owning firearms is not to remove their ability to go hunting or to defend themselves, but rather to deter or prevent the use of a firearm in order to commit a crime.
What Will Happen If A Felon Possesses A Firearm?
Generally speaking, felons are still allowed to associate with or be around someone who owns a gun. However, this can be complicated if the gun itself is around, or if the person who owns the gun lives with the convicted felon.
There are some instances in which a convicted felon may be found guilty of “constructive possession” of a firearm. This can happen if the convicted felon knew that the firearm was in the home or residence, and they had the ability to maintain control of the gun.
There are some circumstances in which a convicted felon can be guilty of constructive possession without ever handling the gun. This can also happen in situations in which the firearm is in a truck or car. An example of this would be if they borrowed a car knowing that it contained a gun, or if they were riding in a car that had a gun.
Keep in mind that some laws make distinctions between a felon possessing a gun, and a felon owning a gun. This can considerably change the outcome of their criminal liability in such situations.
Possession of a firearm by a felon is considered to be a felony crime in itself. It is generally punishable by a prison sentence ranging from one to three years; again, largely depending on state laws. It may also be accompanied by criminal fines and other punishments.
Additionally, being found guilty of this crime would naturally harm the person’s ability to ever own a firearm in the future. Second or third offenses may result in considerably more severe criminal punishments, such as longer prison sentences and higher fines.
Can A Felon’s Gun Rights Be Restored?
There are some instances in which a felon’s rights to own a gun can be restored. This can happen if the felony crime they were convicted of gets expunged or removed from their record. However, this can be difficult to do, as the person may need to wait for several years after the conviction and maintain a clean criminal record afterward.
Under specific circumstances, state laws associated with felon gun ownership rights may be different from federal laws. What this means is that if a person’s gun ownership rights are restored at the state level, they could still be barred from owning one at the federal level. You should check your state’s gun restoration laws in order to determine your eligibility for gun ownership rights restoration if you have been convicted of a felony.
Do I Need A Lawyer If I Am Charged With Felony In Possession Of A Firearm?
You may need to hire a criminal lawyer in your area for help with the specific felony firearm possession laws of your state. An experienced and local criminal attorney can advise you of your legal rights and options, and will also be able to represent you in court as needed throughout the process.