While the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution generally allows citizens to have access to guns, there are several exceptions. Many conditions can limit your legal rights to possess firearms. The primary focus of this article is the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Under Arkansas law, it is illegal for a person who has previously been convicted of a felony to be in possession of or own a firearm. There are also Federal laws that govern this issue. That specific topic will be addressed in another post, but if you or a loved one is facing a federal gun charge, please contact our office to discuss the differences between a state and federal case and your options in either situation.
The penalty for a felon who is convicted of firearm possession can vary depending on a few factors (1). The charge will likely be a Class B Felony if any one of the following three circumstances exists:
- The person has a prior violent felony conviction;
- The person’s current possession of a firearm involves the commission of another crime; or
- The person has been previously convicted under this section or a similar provision from another jurisdiction.
However, if the prior conviction does not fall into one of the above categories it will likely be charged as a Class D felony, rather than a Class B. The penalties for a Class D felony are fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to 6 years. Punishment for a Class B felony includes fines up to $15,000 and prison time of not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years. (2)
It is highly important to note that possession can be constructive, rather than actual. This means that if you knowingly have access to the firearm, in your vehicle or home for example, you can be convicted of the charge even if you are not in actual physical possession. The Arkansas courts use “constructive possession” in both drug cases and firearms cases and it can be implied based on the circumstances surrounding the finding of the contraband, such as “the proximity of the contraband to the accused, the fact that it is in plain view, and the ownership of the property where the contraband is found.” (3)
A variety of situations can lead individuals to find themselves in violation of this law. If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, you likely have many questions ranging from general inquiries to specific information.
Although this law may seem relatively straight forward, each set of circumstances surrounding the application of the law is unique. These cases can be very complicated and should be evaluated by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Collins, Collins & Ray has an extensive background in handling these types of issues. Learn more about what options you may have by contacting us today.
- A.C.A. § 5-73-103 Firearm possession-Restrictions
- A.C.A. § 5-4-401
- 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)