A Michigan man managed to beat the odds and was acquitted of some heavy charges, ranging from torture and solicitation of murder to assault and unlawful imprisonment -- but found himself right back in prison at the end of the trial.
This time, his incarceration is due to federal firearms charges. Police discovered a firearm in his possession during the investigation into the other charges. The defendant has a prior felony conviction, which makes it illegal for him to be in possession of a gun -- even though he claims that it belongs to his ex-wife. Authorities also believe that he crossed state lines with the weapon.
Under the law, it doesn't really matter who the owner of the gun actually is -- what matters is that the defendant had physical control over the weapon.
There isn't enough information in the news yet about the specifics to indicate what sort of penalty the defendant could face, but it's likely to be severe. Under federal guidelines, there are mandatory minimum sentences that are imposed based on a complex combination of factors:
-- The number of the defendant's prior felony convictions
-- The type of felony convictions the defendant has, with violent crimes or drug crimes being weighted more heavily
-- The type of firearm that was found in the defendant's possession with, for example, semi-automatics being regarded more harshly than ordinary pistols
-- The number of weapons found in the felon's possession (although the news indicated that it was just one, in this particular case)
-- Whether or not there's been any attempt to destroy the serial number on the weapon
-- Whether or not the defendant crossed state lines with the gun (merely having a gun that was manufactured in another state from the one in which it was found may be enough to qualify that charge)
In a case like this, the defense attorney may be able to argue a lack of knowledge -- it's possible that the defendant didn't know that the gun had been left behind by his ex-wife. The attorney may also attack the validity of the search warrant -- it may not have been broad enough to include the weapon in its search or otherwise improperly executed.
Anyone charged with a federal weapons violation should seek a criminal defense attorney's help immediately.
Source: Guns.com, "MMA gym owner acquitted on torture, murder charges held on gun charges," Jennifer Cruz, March 21, 2017