We’ve had numerous calls regarding the Arkansas law surrounding a simultaneous charge of possession of drugs and firearms. Many want to know the answers to two main questions: what is the law/what are the penalties upon conviction and what defenses do I have if I am charged with this crime? While each situation is different and requires an individual consultation, we will briefly address the two questions we hear the most.
What is the current law in Arkansas dealing with possession of drugs and firearms at the same time?
(a) No person shall unlawfully commit a felony violation of §§ 5-64-419—5-64-442 or unlawfully attempt, solicit, or conspire to commit a felony violation of §§ 5-64-419—5-64-442 [drugs] while in possession of:
- A firearm; or
- Any implement or weapon that may be used to inflict serious physical injury or death, and that under the circumstances serves no apparent lawful purpose. (1)
The statute specifically states that the above section does NOT apply to misdemeanor drug offenses. This statute also provides for a defense against the charge, specifically, “that the defendant was in his or her home and the firearm or other implement or weapon was not readily accessible for use.” (2)
A violation of this law is a Class Y felony. A sentence under this statute will result in prison time of not less than 10 years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $25,000.
What defenses do I have for possession of drugs and firearms?
As with all criminal cases, the defenses available in a particular case depend on the specific facts and circumstances of that case. This is not a one size fits all situation.
One of the most common defenses is simply that the weapon found was not the Defendant’s. In Arkansas, though, it is not just actual possession that will get you in trouble; there is a concept known as “constructive possession” that courts will apply to find that the weapon, although not physically possessed by the Defendant, was still possessed by him. (3)
As you can see, violations of these statutes can have serious legal consequences; however, aside from the legal consequences you could face, there are a variety of personal and professional consequences to consider.
It is important to remember that each and every case is unique, which unfortunately means there isn’t a singular solution that will work for everyone. This is why consulting with a good lawyer, especially for felony charges that have lingering effects, is extremely important.
Although these are serious charges, and should be treated as such, with the right attorney by your side you have a much better chance at navigating through what can be murky legal water.
To learn more about what options you may have, including possible case-specific defenses, contact our attorneys for a free consultation.
- A.C.A. § 5-74-106 Weapons possession during controlled substance offenses
- A.C.A. § 5-74-106(d)
- Conley v. State, 2014 Ark. 172, 433 S.W. 3d 234 (2014); See also, Gill v. State, 2017 Ark. App. 22, 511 S.W. 3d 865 (2017)