Louisiana Criminal Gun Possession Charges
While Louisiana is generally considered to be a gun-friendly state, there are two categories of people who cannot legally own a firearm:
- A person convicted of certain felony crimes including crimes of violence, sex crimes, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and felony drug charges, for a 10 year period after completing their sentence
- A person convicted of domestic abuse battery, even if it is a misdemeanor, for a 10 year period after they complete their sentence
Louisiana prosecutors treat criminal gun possession charges very seriously with specific prison sentences and fines if convicted. The type of gun does not matter; “Firearms” are considered to be any kind of gun – rifle, revolver, shotgun, pistol, etc.
Felons in Possession of a Firearm
In Louisiana, anyone who has been convicted of a felony cannot legally possess a firearm for at least 10 years after they complete their sentence and/or probation. One of the more common gun charges that I see as a criminal defense lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana is a person who has a prior felony record and is caught carrying a gun on their person or in their car. This is a serious felony offense and carries a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years. It is important to know that most of the Assistant District Attorneys in Lafayette Parish do not deviate from this minimum. In short, if you are felon and you are found in possession of a gun, you will likely end up doing a 10 year sentence. There is also a minimum fine of $1,000 up to a maximum fine of $5,000. If you have a prior felony record, you have to stay away from all guns. Even if you are in your own home and carrying a gun for your own protection, you are not allowed to do so if you have a prior felony conviction. The right to own a gun can be restored if there are no additional felony charges for 10 years after the sentence is completed.
Domestic Abuse Battery Conviction
As of 2014, a person previously convicted of the crime of domestic abuse battery in Louisiana cannot legally own or carry a gun for a 10 year period after their sentence is complete. If the person is found in possession of a firearm within the 10 years, the minimum prison sentence is 1 year and the maximum is 5 years. The fine is $500 – $1,000. After the 10 years, as long as they are not convicted of domestic abuse battery again or any felony offense, they will be able to legally own a gun.
Defense against Criminal Gun Possession Charges
If a gun is found in your home, there are possible defense strategies depending on the facts. The State must prove that the gun belonged to you – and not another member of the household. The state must also prove that you exercised possession and control of the gun. Exercising “possession and control” means that you knew where the gun was and had access to it. For example, you knew the gun was in the kitchen and had the key to unlock it. We have successfully defended clients who were charged with possession of a weapon when the gun was actually owned by another household member. However, people who have been convicted of a felony or domestic abuse battery need to protect themselves from possible weapon charges. I strongly recommend that if you are living with someone who owns a gun, make sure that person has the gun registered in their name.
It is far better to protect yourself from a weapon charge before the issue arises. But if you do find yourself charged with criminal gun possession in Louisiana, you can call my Louisiana office at 337 704-2615 for a free consultation to see how my law firm can help defend you.