Careful consideration is given in Criminal Court to weapons charges, especially when they are criminal charges involving a convicted felon and possession of a firearm (gun). The consequences of a conviction for Possession of a Firearm by a Felon Charge are serious and can result in jail time (41 months maximum prison sentence) as a Class G Felony under the Felony Sentencing Grid.
If you’ve been charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm, it’s crucial to seek good legal advice from an experienced defense attorney. Possession, and what constitutes possession, is often a key issue in the defense of such charges – Bill Powers, Criminal Defense Lawyer
What is Possession of a Firearm by Felon in North Carolina?
Possession of Firearm by Felon in North Carolina is a law created by the NC General Assembly and is not a traditional Common Law offense. Under Chapter 14 Criminal Law and specifically N.C.G.S. 14-415.1 it is a felony to possess any firearm, including a track meet “starter gun,” or any other weapon of mass destruction or any silencer or weapon muffler. Antique firearms a not included in the NC Firearm by Felony statute. NC Antique Firearm Law
Possession charges in North Carolina and the evidence presented by the prosecutor (the DA in NC) are “viewed in the light most favorable” to the State when determining whether a case can be submitted to a jury for determination of whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Possession of a firearm or other prohibited item, like drug charges, can be either active or constructive possession. In an October 16, 2018 decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals (NCCOA) in North Carolina v. Robinson (defense lawyers may refer to the legal opinion as State v. Robinson), makes it clear the State need only prove two prima facie elements:
- The Defendant is a Convicted Felony; and,
- The Defendant Possessed a Firearm
Constructive Possession vs. Actual Possession
Proof of felon in possession of firearm may be shown by either constructive possession or actual possession. If a Defendant has physical custody or personal possession of a firearm, that is “actual possession.” Constructive possession is determined by the facts and circumstances unique to the criminal charges in North Carolina.
Constructive possession of a firearm can be shown when the firearm (weapon) is not within the defendant’s physical possession or custody. Instead, the person facing the criminal offense is aware the weapon is present and has the intent and power to control the use or disposition of the firearm. That’s true for drug charges, where possession may also be a key part of the defense strategy.
Exclusive control, or lack of exclusive control, of the area where the firearm is found may require an additional analysis. Anytime contraband is found somewhere in an area the defendant does not have exclusive possession, the prosecutor must present evidence of “other incriminating circumstances before constructive possession may be inferred.” North Carolina v Matias
Constructive possession of a firearm by felon requires careful consideration of the fact pattern and what took place on-scene. Defense attorneys focus on where the contraband is found, relative to the position or location of the defendant facing criminal charges – Bill Powers, Criminal Defense Lawyer Charlotte NC
Timing can be key, as can the charging officer’s ability to confirm contraband had not previously been in an area near the defendant. Defense lawyers may refer to those as “throw down” cases, where a police officer may or may not have seen the accused throw an item. Again, proving constructive possession may involve video evidence, police reports, drawings, and diagrams of the area in question.
Bill Powers – Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Felon in North Carolina, you deserve legal representation by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Firearm by Felon charges are serious. Bill Powers helps people throughout North Carolina with serious criminal charges, both felony or misdemeanor, including:
- Charlotte NC in Mecklenburg County (26th Judicial District)
- Monroe NC in Union County, North Carolina
- Mooresville NC (and Statesville) in Iredell County
- Gastonia NC in Gaston County
- Other NC Criminal Courts for Serious Felony Charges
Call NBTA Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist Bill Powers NOW: 704-342-4357
NC Criminal Law Sources: