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Federal Gun & Narcotics Laws

Quick Reference guide to Federal Gun and Narcotic Laws

Honorable William C. Killian, United States Attorney, Eastern District of Tennessee

18 U.S.C. § 924(c) -Committing a Violent Crime or a Serious Drug Offense with a Firearm:

  • Commit a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime and possess a firearm during its commission,your sentence will be 5 years to life.
  • If the firearm is displayed, imprisonment from 7 years to life.
  • If the firearm is discharged or fired, during the commission of the crime, 10 years to life.
  • If a sawed-off rifle or shotgun is used or displayed, not less than 10 years to life.
  • If a machine gun or destructive device, or a firearm equipped with a silencer, not less than 30 years to life.

The 2nd time you are convicted of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), you are facing not less than 25 years to life in prison.

People Who Cannot Possess a Firearm or Ammunition:

  • People who have been convicted of a felony that has a possible punishment of a term of more than one year, regardless of whether they served time in jail or a penitentiary;
  • Any person who is fugitive from any local, state, or federal court;
  • Anybody who has been determined by a court or having been committed to a mental institution and determined to have a mental defect;
  • Illegal immigrants or aliens;
  • Anyone who has renounced their United States citizenship;
  • Anybody under a court restraining order or who has been convicted of domestic violence;
  • Under federal law a single bullet, shotgun shell, or bullet casing is ammunition.

Potential punishment for any of the violations listed above: imprisonment up to 10 years, fines up to$250,000 and supervised release up to 3 years.

Armed Career Criminal:

  • If you have been convicted three times of a violent felony or any drug felony which carries a possible sentence of 10 years or more, regardless of how long ago you were convicted and regardless of whether you spent time in jail or prison, and you are then found in possession of a gun or ammunition, then you could be an armed career criminal.
  • A violent felony under federal law is determined to be burglary, arson, or any felony crimes more serious than this.

Punishment for armed career criminals: not less than 15 years and up to life in the penitentiary,fines up to $250,000, supervised release up to 5 years.

Manufacturing,Distributing, or Possessing With Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance: (21U.S.C. § 842(a)(1)) – It is a federal crime to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. This is the most frequently charged federal drug statute. Most drug prosecutions involve cocaine(crack and powder), methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and prescription pills(oxycodone, hydrocodone, Xanax, etc.).

If you are involved with the following amounts, you are facing these penalties:

Drug Penalty Chart
Drug 841(b)(1)(A) 10 years to life* 841(b)(1)(B) 5 years to 40 years* 841(b)(1)(C) up to 20 years*
Heroin 1 kilo or more 100 grams or more Less than 100 grams
Cocaine(Powder) 5 kilos or more 500 grams or more Less than 500 grams
Crack 280 grams or more 28 grams or more Less than 28 grams
Marijuana 1000 kilos or more 100 kilos or more Less than 100 kilos
Pills N/A N/A Any amount

* Factorswhich increase the absolute least sentence and the maximum sentences:

Prior Felony DrugConviction

  • 10 years to Life offense doubles to 20 years to Life.
  • 5 to 40 year offense doubles to 10 years to Life.
  • Up to 20 year offense increases to up to 30 years.

2 Prior Felony Drug Convictions

  • 10 years to Life offense becomes Mandatory Life Without the Possibility of Parole.

Drug Conspiracy: (21U.S.C. § 846) – An agreement between two or more persons to violate drug laws.Penalty: Same as chart.

Attempt: (21U.S.C. § 846) – Intent to commit a drug offense and taking a substantial step toward the commission of the crime. Penalty:Same as chart.

Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises: (“crack houses statute”) (21 U.S.C. § 856) – It is a federal crime to open, lease, rent, use, maintain, manage, or control a dwelling for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, storing, or using any controlled substance (not just crack). Penalty: Up to 20 years, and your house would be forfeited to the federal government.

Possessing Products or Equipment to be Used to Manufacture a Controlled Substance: (21U.S.C. § 843(a)(6)) – It is a federal crime to possess chemicals, materials, or equipment which can be used to manufacture a controlled substance knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the items will be used to manufacture a controlled substance.(most commonly crack or methamphetamine).Penalty: up to 10 years for methamphetamine / up to 4 years for other controlled substances. Penalties are doubled with a previous drug felony conviction.

Manufacturing,Distributing, or Possessing with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine where Children are Present or Reside: (21 U.S.C. § 860a) – Provides an increase in the punishment if children under the age of 18 are present or reside at location where methamphetamine is manufactured.Penalty: up to 20 years consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

Asset Forfeiture: (21U.S.C. § 853) – Property [cash,personal property (including vehicles), and real estate] used to assist drug trafficking, as well as the proceeds of drug trafficking (income and assets).Are forfeitable to the government under federal law.

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