924(c) – Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug or Violent Crime
18 U.S.C. 924(c)
The government is always eager to charge firearms counts in relation to drug and violent crimes. The effect of a 924(c) conviction on a potential sentence is overwhelming. In addition to mandatory prison time consecutive to the underlying crime, the law requires that each 924(c) count run consecutively as well. Individuals facing two or more 924(c) counts are at risk of mandatory sentences of at least 30 years or more. It is critical to get an attorney familiar with 924(c) defenses.
The Henry Law Firm PLLC has extensive experience representing clients in firearms prosecutions in relation to both drug and violent crimes. We have defended individuals in cases involving semi-automatic weapons, shotguns, and destructive devices. We have saved our clients significant amounts of time in jail. We have also assisted individuals on appeal from firearms and related violent convictions obtain reversals in their cases.
18 USC 924(c) says:
(c)(1)(A) Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime—
(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years;
(ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and
(iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years.
The term of imprisonment stated must run consecutive to or stacked on the sentence of the underlying crime. For example, if you face 46-57 months in prison for a drug offense and are also convicted of carrying a firearm in furtherance of that drug offense under 924(c) you must add 60 additional months to the sentence. Additional penalties are involved for short-barreled weapons, semi-automatic assault weapons, machine guns, silenced weapons and destructive devices. No person convicted under 924(c) may be sentenced to probation.
If you are convicted of more than one violation of 924(c), the second and subsequent convictions each carry a mandatory minimum 25 years in prison consecutive to each other. For example, in our previous scenario an individual facing 46-57 months for a drug crime and an additional 60 months for the single 924(c) violation. If their had been two 924(c) violations the individual would face 46-57 months and an additional 30 years.
Under this statute a “drug trafficking crime” is defined as:
[A]ny felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), or chapter 705 of title 46.
Under this statute a “crime of violence is defined as any felony that:
(A) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or
(B) that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
Other penalties may apply if a person uses or carries armor piercing ammunition.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. United States that the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act was constitutionally vague. The language in 924(c)(3)(B) defining a crime of violence is similar, but not identical to the residual clause in Johnson. Therefore, litigation will take place on what crimes qualify as “violent” under 924(c). This is an area ripe for review when looking to combat a charge under 924(c).
The Consequences Are Too Dire To Trust Your Defense To Just Anyone.
The Henry Law Firm PLLC is dedicated to vigorously defending its clients facing minimum mandatory firearm sentences. Call the Henry Law Firm PLLC at 646-820-0224 to learn how our innovation and experience can help you.
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