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April 11, 2019

Drug Crimes Sentence Enhancement for Carrying a Gun

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There are many circumstances under both state and federal law that can lead to a person’s sentence being increased after they have been convicted of a drug crime. Under the Controlled Substances Act, your sentence may be enhanced if you are arrested for a drug crime and the police find a gun on or near you.

The federal law on this allows sentence enhancement for any person who, during and in relation to any federal drug trafficking crime, uses or carries a gun; or who, in order to commit or complete any such crime, possesses a gun. The additional time to be added to the drug sentence for a first offense would be five years. If the gun is used to intimidate another person, whether the gun was brandished or displayed, then the drug crime sentence can be enhanced to an additional seven years. This increases to 10 years if the gun is fired.

The Type of Weapon Matters in Your Case

The sentence enhancement becomes more serious if a specifically listed weapon is used. The sentences can increase from 10 years in prison for a short-barreled rifle or a semi-automatic weapon, to life imprisonment for a second-time offender carrying a weapon with a silencer or muffler. If armor piercing ammunition is used, the sentence can be enhanced by 15 years, and if death results from the use of the ammunition, then the sentence can be enhanced to life imprisonment or death. This would be in addition to any manslaughter or murder charges the person using the ammunition would be facing.

What can make these sentence enhancements particularly tough is the fact that the judge is not allowed to give probation. In addition, the sentences cannot run at the same time with the drug crime on which they are based, or any other crime for which the defendant is convicted. This means that if a person is convicted for the drug crime and sentenced to 10 years, and then receives another 10 years for a gun he was carrying at the time of arrest, he has to complete the sentences one after the other. This is known as serving the sentences consecutively.

Note that, if someone is arrested for a drug crime in which he bartered a gun for drugs, the presence of a gun here would not qualify for sentence enhancement. In this case, the law does not consider the exchange a “use” of the gun in relation to a drug crime.

Contact a Federal Drug Crimes Attorney

If you are charged with a drug crime and had a gun in your possession when arrested, you need an experienced drug crimes attorney fighting for you. Criminal defense lawyers in Rockville, MD have extensive experience dealing with multiple drug cases at both the state and federal level and will use that experience to ensure that your rights are protected.

Contact the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into criminal defense and drug crimes involving guns.

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