Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Imposing Sentencing Enhancements

Many people who have a criminal history are prohibited from owning or purchasing weapons. Thus, they can be charged with crimes if they are caught with guns in their possession. They can also face criminal accusations for lying to arms dealers to obtain weapons, and depending on the facts of the case, may face significant penalties. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case, in which a court issued an opinion discussing sentencing enhancements for the crime of making false statements to a firearms dealer. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is smart to meet with a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant attempted to purchase a rifle from a gun shop in Pensacola. As part of the process of buying the gun, he was asked to undergo a background check, which he failed. Thus, he was denied the right to purchase the gun.

Allegedly, a review of the form the defendant completed for the background check revealed that he lied on a question regarding whether he was subject to any order restraining him from stalking, harassing, or threatening an intimate partner. Thus, the defendant was charged with making a false statement to an arms dealer in violation of federal law. He entered a guilty plea but later appealed his sentence arguing that the State did not establish that the sentencing enhancements were warranted.

Grounds for Imposing Sentencing Enhancements in Weapons Crime Cases

In cases in which a defendant challenges a factual basis for a sentence enhancement, the government bears the burden of proving the disputed fact by a preponderance of the evidence. This burden of proof requires them to establish that the existence of a fact is more likely than its nonexistence.

A sentencing court’s findings of fact may be based upon facts admitted by the defendant’s guilty plea, undisputed statements in the pre-sentencing report, or evidence presented at the sentencing hearing. The court may also make reasonable inferences from the evidence offered.

The subject guidelines suggested a certain base offense level for making false statements to a firearms dealer if the offense involved a semiautomatic weapon that is capable of accepting a large capacity magazine, which includes, in part, firearms that are in close proximity to more than fifteen rounds of ammunition. Here, the court found that the evidence presented showed that the enhancement was warranted. Thus, the sentence was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney

Gun crimes can result in significant penalties, but in many instances, a defendant may be able to prove there are no grounds for imposing a lengthy prison sentence. If you are accused of a weapons crime, you should meet with an attorney about your potential defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the best legal outcome under the facts surrounding your charges. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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