Have You Been Charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon or First Offender Probationer in Georgia?
It is well known that crimes such as murder, armed robbery, and burglary are serious offenses that come with intense consequences. However, people are often unaware that possession of a firearm or knife during a crime or an attempt to commit a crime can also result in significant penalties. If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of a firearm during commission or attempt of certain crimes or another weapons offense in Georgia, contact us now for a free no-obligation consultation. Our lawyers have over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience and will fervently protect your rights, future, and freedom.
Georgia Laws on Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon or First Offender Probationer
Possessing a Firearm While on Probation in Georgia
A person who is on probation as a felony first offender or has been convicted of a felony in Georgia, or anywhere else in the United States is prohibited from receiving, possessing, or transporting any firearm. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-131(b).
Anyone who violates this statute will have committed a felony punishable by a prison term between one and ten years. A second or subsequent conviction will result in a prison term between five and ten years. However, if the accused has previously been convicted of or on probation for a forcible felony, then the person will face a prison sentence of five years.
Attempting to Purchase or Obtain a Firearm While on Probation or Convicted Felon in Georgia
A person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a conviction of a forcible felony, on probation as a first offender, or under conditional discharge for a forcible felony and who attempts to purchase or obtain transfer of a firearm will be guilty of a felony. The punishment is a prison term between one and five years. However, a second or subsequent conviction will be punished by a prison term between five and ten years. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-131(b.1)
What is a Forcible Felony?
The term “forcible felony” means any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person.
Forcible felonies include murder; murder in the second degree; burglary in any degree; robbery; armed robbery; home invasion in any degree; kidnapping; hijacking of an aircraft or hijacking a motor vehicle in the first degree; aggravated stalking; rape; aggravated child molestation; aggravated sexual battery; arson in the first degree; the manufacturing, transporting, distribution, or possession of explosives with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate individuals or destroy a public building; terroristic threats; or acts of treason or insurrection.
Exceptions to When a Convicted Felon Can Possess a Firearm in Georgia
There are a couple of exceptions where people convicted of a felony are permitted to possess a firearm.
- Any person who has been pardoned for the felony. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-131(c)
- A person who has been convicted of a felony pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraint of trade, and submits an application showing that their record and reputation are such that the possession of firearms would not present a threat to the safety of Georgia citizens. O.C.G.A. § 16-11-131(d)
Georgia Case Law
It is important to note that possession of a firearm does not constitute ownership. Even if a person does not own the firearm, they can still be charged under this statute if they have possession of it. Layne v. State, 313 Ga. App. 608, (2012).
Only a person who is discharged from probation as a first offender without a court adjudication of guilty is permitted to possess a firearm. Trigger v. State, 275 Ga. 512, (2002).
The possession can be actual or constructive. Georgia courts have found that constructive possession is sufficient to prove possession of a firearm, which can also be established by circumstantial evidence. Murray v. State, 309 Ga. App. 828, (2011).
In the case of Harvey v. State, the court found that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted firearm. The Warner Robins Police Department was executing a warrant on an apartment unit. After entering the home, the defendant was arrested for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony along with other offenses. When the defendant was arrested, the gun was retrieved from the bedroom. The court held that there was no evidence showing that he exercised dominion over the gun or had immediate access to the weapon. Therefore, he was unable to get convicted of the possession of a firearm charge. Harvey v. State, 344 Ga. App. 7, (2017).
Similarly, in the case of Peppers v. State, the court found even though the accused knew the location of the gun, there was no evidence presented that he had actual or constructive possession of the gun. Therefore, there was not enough evidence to convict. Peppers v. State, 315 Ga. App. 770, (2012).
Penalty for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon or First Offender Probationer in Georgia
A conviction for possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain crimes will be treated as a felony punishable by five years in prison, along with any other sentence the accused has received.
For a second conviction, the accused faces a ten-year prison term. This sentence cannot be suspended by the court or replaced by a probation period.
In addition to the punishment for possession of a firearm or knife, the accused may also face penalties for the underlying crime as well. They will be considered separate offenses.
Furthermore, having a felony on your criminal history can make life difficult. It can be challenging to obtain credit, employment, or housing with a felony on your record. That is why we encourage people to know their options and to speak with an experienced Georgia Weapons Attorney. Our decades of experience as weapon crimes attorneys in Georgia gives us the upper hand when negotiating your case with the prosecution. When your future and freedom are on the line, don't waste time in hiring an attorney.
Georgia Defenses to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon or First Offender Probationer
Insufficient Evidence: We frequently represent clients where after combing through their case, realize there was insufficient evidence demonstrating that the accused had possession of the firearm or knife. We are experienced in bringing forth motions and getting cases dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
Lack of possession: Evidence that the accused lacked actual or constructive possession of a firearm would be an excellent defense for your case. Your possession of a firearm or knife attorney can use that evidence to obtain a dismissal of the charge.
Innocence: We understand that you may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. We also see when defendants are chosen out of a lineup of possible suspects and the wrong one selected because of similar characteristics. If you have an alibi for the time the crime occurred, call us now.
No matter what the particulars of your case may be, there are always Georgia Criminal Defenses at your disposal. Our possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime lawyers have more than 20 years of experience in exclusively criminal law. We are proficient in reaching resolutions outside of trial but are also extremely capable of taking your case to trial. However, we will discuss all your options with you before you choose how to proceed with your situation.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has been charged with a weapon crime, you are facing severe penalties that will put your future and freedom at risk. We are experienced in handling weapons possession cases and want to help you achieve the best possible result for your case. We have built relationships with prosecutors throughout Georgia that will help you get the best result. Call now for a free no-obligation consultation.