Federal Weapons Charges

Federal weapons charges are among the most difficult for most to understand. This is because the laws related to weapons in the United States must be carefully-crafted to meet Constitutional requirements. However, there is an easy way to remember exactly what is covered under U.S. gun control laws currently found mainly at 18 USC § 922. Federal weapons laws regulate…

  • Who may possess/own a firearm/weapon
  • What types of firearms/weapons may be owned/transported/traded
  • Where weapons may be possessed and/or lawfully discharged
  • How many? In some instances, quantities play a role in the law

In general, however, Federal weapons violations only involve interstate transactions. As a rule, the types of Federal weapons charges fall into four categories. These are:

  1. Trafficking in weapons/firearms – trafficking in weapons charges most often result from illegal commerce between states or via imports/exports.
  2. Violent crimes – All weapons charges are counted as violent crimes
  3. Illegal/unlawful possession – Often results from having the wrong license for a particular firearm, possession of a firearm without proper authorization, or a convicted felon in possession of a weapon and/or ammunition.
  4. Fraud – most often charged as a result of falsifying information when obtaining a firearms permit.

What Does it Mean to be Charged with Weapons Violations by the Feds?

If the charges are serious enough, you may be looking at a long time in prison and there could be considerable fines. Even if you manage to avoid a long sentence, there will likely be a laundry list of restrictions and requirements.

When it comes to charges of Federal weapons violations, you really want to fight to clear your name. You want to be exonerated. So you need an attorney who will fight for you all the way.

What is the First Thing You should do when Arrested and Charged with Federal Weapons Violations?

The first thing you should do if arrested by Federal investigators is ask for Robert J. Callahan & Associates Criminal Defense Law Firm. Do not answer any questions other than to give information already on your driver’s license or state ID. Even if the Federal investigators seem “nice” or “friendly” do not answer a question. You can refuse their questions. You have a right to refuse their questions.

If you want to win your case, you have a responsibility to refuse their questions. Your defense starts with your silence. “You have the right to remain silent.” Exercise it. Be polite, but be firm.

What Happens Next and What are the Penalties if Convicted of Federal Weapons Charges?

You were firm, you were respectful, and we arrived to find you ready to talk. After discussing necessary matters, we part. We immediately begin working on your defense.

The technique we employ at Robert J Callahan & Associates is part of our success. We have helped hundreds of clients over the years using this technique. It is so remarkable, yet so simple. We work.

We launch our own independent investigation regarding your case. We accept nothing told to us by Federal prosecutors. Instead, we rely on our own findings to determine how best to defend our client. It is not that we do not trust the government, but frankly, it is not in their interest to look out for you. That is why we work as hard for our clients as we do. If we did not, no one would.

See, we understand that Federal weapons charges are very serious. Not only are there the initial charges, but in most cases, the charges are multiplied. In addition, certain conditions could result in mandatory minimums pushing the up the sentence.

In general, the sentences for Federal weapons convictions range from five to 30 years’ incarceration. Much depends on the specifics of the crime.

Planning Your Defense to Federal Weapons Charges

Because charges are often multiplied, one strategy is to eliminate as many of the charges as possible. This can be done either by punching holes in the Prosecution’s case from the start or holding information for later, more effective use.

Strategy plays a major role in winning a Federal weapons case. At Robert J Callahan & Associates Criminal Defense Law Firm, we know this. Our record speaks for itself.

Whether you have already been arrested, believe that you are facing charges, or have already been arraigned, give us a call at


Robert J Callahan and Associates Criminal Defense Law Firm is located in downtown Chicago. The firm has been helping clients of Cook County, Illinois for 23 years.

Useful Resources

U.S. Dept. of Justice. Offices of the United States Attorneys. Criminal Resource Manual. 112. Firearms Charges

18 U.S. Code § 922 – Unlawful acts

18 U.S. Code § 3282 – Offenses not capital

Illinois Gun Statutes

Other Questions People Ask…

What are gun charges?

Gun charges can be a number of violations, from local ordinances to state firearms code violations. Many gun violations are Federal and include possession, trafficking, and violent crime. Most gun charges are felonies.

What is the sentence for possession of a gun? Is it jail or prison?

That is a loaded question. Pun intended.

The fact is that there are numerous gun possession laws in every state and on a Federal level. The question itself is too vague to give a brief answer. Most likely, however the charge would be a felony and if Federal, the sentence would start at five years in prison.

Illinois has a very extensive set of gun laws which you can read here.

Are gun-control laws state or federal?

Gun control laws can be either state or federal.

If a felon is caught with a firearm, what is the penalty?

Generally, a felon caught with a firearm will be guilty of a weapons violation. The penalty depends on the exact circumstances. Was the felon still on parole? On probation? Was there a violent crime committed? Generally, however, Federal charges would result in at least five years in prison if convicted.

What is the statute of limitations for Federal weapons violations?

Per 18 U.S. Code § 3282, the statute of limitations for a weapons possession violation would be five years. Other Federal weapons charges would qualify as violent crimes and as such would have no limits on the filing of charges.