Florida Court Discusses a Possession of a Firearm Charge by a Convicted Felon

Typically, a person convicted of a felony under Florida law will lose the right to possess a firearm. Thus, while the possession of a firearm is usually legal for a person with no criminal past when a gun is owned or obtained by a person who has previously been convicted of serious crimes, it may constitute a criminal offense. In a recent case, a Florida court discussed what information the prosecution must give to a person charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in a case in which the defendant argued he was not properly advised of his rights prior to pleading guilty. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Sarasota gun crime defense attorney to discuss your options prior to entering a plea.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant pled guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. After sentencing, he appealed, and the appellate court affirmed his conviction. The defendant appealed again, and his conviction was ultimately vacated by the United States Supreme Court. the matter was then remanded back to an appellate court to determine whether the defendant’s indictment was jurisdictionally deficient and whether the district court committed a clear error in failing to advise the defendant that the prosecution was required to prove that the defendant knew he was a felon when he possessed the gun, prior to the entry of a plea.

Possession of Firearm by a Felon Charge

Due to the fact that the defendant pled guilty, he was required to demonstrate the existence of a jurisdictional defect for his sentence to be vacated. In evaluating whether a defect in a federal indictment is jurisdictional, the court must assess whether it charged the defendant with a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States. Although the failure to include an element may render the indictment inadequate, it does not remove jurisdiction from the federal court.

In the subject case, the court found that the language of the indictment sufficiently stated that the defendant violated a federal statute, and averred that the defendant committed a crime against the United States. As such, it was not jurisdictionally deficient. Further, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that his guilty plea was invalid constitutionally. Specifically, the court held that the district court did not commit a clear error in failing to advise the defendant that the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew he was a convicted felon at the time of the alleged offense, prior to the defendant’s entry of his plea. Thus, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

Meet with a Seasoned Sarasota Attorney

If you are accused of owning or possessing a weapon in violation of Florida law, it is advisable to contact an attorney regarding your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a seasoned gun crime defense attorney who is adept at seeking favorable outcomes in criminal matters, and he will advocate aggressively on your behalf, to help you pursue just results. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 941-462-1789 or through the form online to schedule a meeting.

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