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Are you facing a conviction for weapons charges?

The United States Constitution protects citizens’ right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but weapons are closely regulated by both state and federal law.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being charged with a weapons offense—like a gun crime—you could face hefty fines, limited future opportunities, and even jail time.

Weapons offenses are often felony convictions, so you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who’s well-versed in gun laws. A Chattanooga weapons charges lawyer will work to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome for your case.

Illegal Firearms in Tennessee

Some weapons are completely outlawed in the Volunteer State. This means it is illegal to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, sell, repair, transport, or possess the barred weapons.

Prohibited firearms in Tennessee include:

  • An explosive weapon of any kind, including both explosive weapons and devices designed to shoot an explosive weapon
  • A machine gun, defined as a firearm capable of firing more than two shots with one trigger pull
  • Knuckles, if carried in public (e.g., brass knuckles)
  • A device that mimics the appearance of an explosive or fire-causing device (a.k.a. “hoax device”)

The Tennessee criminal law also contains an overarching prohibition of any “implement for infliction of serious bodily injury or death” if there’s no lawful purpose for possessing it.

Penalties for Gun Crime Charges in Tennessee

Penalties for weapons offenses in Tennessee can result in a range of penalties. Some weapon crimes are charged as misdemeanors, and some are charged as felonies.

For example, a simple weapons charge is one where the defendant was found in possession of a firearm, club, or blade longer than four inches and “intended to go armed.” This charge is usually considered a Class C misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of $50 in fines and 30 days in jail.

On the other hand, in criminal cases where defendants were in possession of a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun, these charges are considered Class E felonies. This weapons offense is punishable by one to six years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.

Aggravating Factors in Tennessee Weapons Convictions

In any case involving illegal possession of weapons, there are certain factors that—if present—could lead to charges being increased to a more severe offense.

Second or Subsequent Offenses

If the defendant has previous gun crimes on their record, a simple weapons possession charge—usually a Class C misdemeanor—could be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor. This charge carries a possible penalty of $500 in fines and six months in jail.

Possessing a Weapon as a Convicted Felon

Convicted felons who have previously been convicted of a violent felony or a drug felony are prohibited from possessing a firearm in Tennessee.

When a defendant with a violent felony conviction on their criminal record is found in possession of a firearm, the charge is a Class B felony. Penalties could include up to 30 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Those with felony drug crimes on their record could face a Class C felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Possessing a Weapon on School Property

Possession of a weapon on school property—including school buildings, grounds, and athletic fields—is a Class E felony.

Possessing a Weapon While Under the Influence

Even if the weapon is legally owned and carried, if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Tennessee, you could be facing a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties for this charge include up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines.

Using a Weapon in the Commission of an Alleged Crime

If the defendant is accused of illegally possessing a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a dangerous felony—such as carjacking, aggravated burglary, or murder—the weapons offense is a Class C felony.

Criminal Defense Strategies for Weapons Offenses in Tennessee

Suppose you’re facing a weapons charge in Tennessee. In that case, it’s important to remember that, for you to be proven guilty, the prosecution must convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed the weapon illegally and intended to be armed.

With that in mind, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to use one of the following criminal defense strategies for your benefit:

  • You intended to use the weapon for hunting, fishing, or sport shooting
  • The weapon wasn’t loaded or concealed
  • The firearm wasn’t in working condition
  • You have the proper license to carry the weapon
  • The weapon was being used for a lawful purpose
  • You were only in possession of the weapon temporarily after finding it or taking it from a threatening aggressor

Contact an Experienced Chattanooga Criminal Defense Lawyer

A weapons conviction is no joke. If you’re facing charges for firearm possession, you need legal representation. An experienced Chattanooga weapons charges attorney can help protect your rights and freedom. Contact the Law Office of Sam Byrd today for a consultation on your criminal case.

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FAQ: Chattanooga Weapons Charges

What’s the difference between a state and federal gun crime?

Both state and federal governments have laws restricting the manufacturing, selling, and possession of weapons. For example, you will face federal court and a federal charge if your offense violates federal gun laws. However, if your offense violates state law, you’ll be charged at the state level.

Federal law prohibits the following individuals from possessing firearms or ammunition:

  • Those with criminal convictions resulting in more than one year in prison
  • Fugitives
  • Those who use certain drugs unlawfully
  • Those committed to mental institutions
  • Immigrants who are in the United States unlawfully
  • Those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship
  • Those dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military
  • Those restricted by a protective order by a partner
  • Those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors
Is it illegal to own a short-barrel rifle in Tennessee?

Earlier this year, Tennessee legislators voted to remove the short-barrel rifle or shotgun from the list of illegal firearms in the state. It is now legal for Tennessee residents to possess them.

What happens if you get caught with drugs and a gun in Tennessee?

If you are arrested for both the possession of drugs and unlawful possession of weapons in Tennessee, you could be facing severe penalties. In the Volunteer State, offenders who commit both of these crimes could face consecutive sentences for these crimes if convicted.

We can help if you need a criminal defense attorney or DUI defense lawyer

Over the years it has been gut-wrenching to see how better representation would have changed the lives of those charged with criminal offenses in Chattanooga. I have been in courtrooms where someone felt they had done nothing wrong so they did not get representation because they thought the facts would be enough to maintain their freedom. Although the Tennessee criminal justice process might seem straightforward, it rarely is. The law is complicated and has many small nuances that can create big impacts. Knowing how to navigate the legal system and having an experienced and aggressives criminal defense attorney on your side, and in your corner, is the difference that changes the dynamic in your criminal defense case.

Both criminal charges and drunk driving charges can sometimes be resolved by one of the following:

  • An outright dismissal of the criminal charges against you
  • Passing the case for a period of time for it to be dismissed upon your good behavior
  • Guilty plea diversion, which allows first offenders to have the charge removed from their record if they satisfactorily complete all probation requirements
  • Alternative sentencing such as probation to prevent or reduce jail time
  • Reducing serious charges to lesser charges, which reduces possible jail and probation time
  • Minimizing the jail time and other consequences of conviction

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