It can be intimidating and frustrating to be charged with a firearms crime, especially as a lawful gun owner. You will want to vigorously defend your Second Amendment rights. However, you should not argue with the police. You should not try to defend yourself by answering questions. Instead, you are better off invoking your right to remain silent and clearly asking for an attorney. When given the opportunity, you should contact the Fayetteville weapons charges attorneys at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP.
At our firm, we have years representing individuals against firearms and weapons charges. We will scrutinize the evidence and build you the strongest possible defense. To reach a Fayetteville criminal lawyer and discuss your case, call (479) 316-3760 today, or reach out through the online form.
Arkansas Gun Laws
Lawfully buying a firearm in Arkansas is not difficult. As long as you are at least 18 years or older, have a state driver’s license or ID, and have not been convicted of a felony or found to be mentally ill, you can purchase a handgun, rifle, or shotgun from a licensed dealer or private seller. Under federal law, licensed dealers can only sell to individuals who are at least 21-years-old, which means 18 to 20-year-olds must purchase handguns through private sellers. A dealer will conduct a background check on you. If you purchase from a private seller, no background check is required.
No law requires you to have a permit to carry a handgun openly or in your vehicle. However, there are many places you cannot take a firearm, and if the police believe you have criminal intent to use the weapon, you can be arrested and charged.
If you wish to carry your handgun with you but have it hidden on your person, you must apply for and obtain a concealed handgun carry license. To obtain such a permit, Arkansas Code §5-73-309 states you must meet a number of requirements, including – but not limited to:
- Be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S.
- Be a resident of the state for at least 90 days before submitting an application
- Not be subject to any federal, state, or local law that prohibits you from possessing a firearm
- Not chronically or habitually abuse a controlled substance or alcohol
- Not be a fugitive from justice or have an active warrant for your arrest
- Satisfactorily complete an approved training course
- Sign an allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and the Arkansas Constitution.
Common Arkansas Weapons Charges
Call one of our experienced Fayetteville weapons charges attorneys if you are facing charges for:
Possession an Instrument of Crime (AR Code §5-73-102)
You can be convicted of a class A misdemeanor if you possess any instrument of crime with the intent to use it criminally.
Possession of Firearms by Certain Persons (AR Code §5-73-103)
You are prohibited from possessing a firearm if you are convicted of a felony, adjudicated mentally ill, or committed involuntarily to any mental institution. Depending on the circumstances, you may be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, or a class D or B felony.
Criminal Use of Prohibited Weapons (AR Code §5-73-104)
You can be charged with a class D or B felony if you use, possess, make, repair, sell, or otherwise deal in bombs, machine guns, sawed-off shotguns or rifles, firearms specially made or adapted for silent discharge, metal knuckles or other items meant to inflict serious physical injury or death. Possession of metal knuckles, however, is a class A misdemeanor.
Defacing a Firearm (AR Code §5-73-106)
You can be charged with a class D felony if you knowingly remove, deface, alter, or destroy the manufacturer’s serial number or identification mark on a firearm.
Possession of a Defaced Firearm (AR Code §5-73-107)
If you knowingly possess a firearm that has had the serial number or other identification marks removed, defaced, or altered, then you can be charged with a class D felony. If the serial number or mark is merely covered or obstructed and can be retrieved, you face a class A misdemeanor.
Criminal Acts Involving Explosives (AR Code §5-73-108)
If you sell, possess, manufacture, transfer, or transport explosive material or a destructive device, and you intend to use it to commit an offense or know or should know another person intends to use it to commit a crime, then you will be charged with a class B felony. You also can face felony charges for distribution of explosive materials, possession of stolen explosive materials, and unlawful receipt or possession of stolen materials. Improperly storing explosive materials is a class A misdemeanor.
Furnishing Minors with Deadly Weapons (AR Code §5-73-109)
If you sell, barter, lease, give, or otherwise furnish a firearm or deadly weapon to a minor without the consent of their parent or guardian, you can be charged with a class A misdemeanor. If the weapon was a handgun, sawed-off or short-barrel shotgun or rifle, firearm made for silent discharge, machine gun, explosive, metal knuckles, deface firearm, or other implement to cause serious physical injury or death, the charge is a class B felony.
Unlawful Procurement of a Firearm (AR Code §5-73-111)
If you knowingly solicit, persuade, encourage, or entice a licensed dealer or private seller to transfer a weapon under unlawful circumstances, or you provide false information to a licensed dealer or private seller with the intent to decide the dealer or seller, then you can be charged with a class D felony.
Carrying a Weapon (AR Code §5-73-120)
You can be charged with a class A misdemeanor for carrying a handgun, knife, or club on your person or in your vehicle, or otherwise where it is readily available with the purpose to use it unlawfully against another person.
Penalties for Firearm and Weapons Charges in Arkansas
When you get charged with a misdemeanor or felony firearms crime, you need to speak with a Fayetteville weapons charges attorney as soon as possible. If you plead guilty or are convicted, you face incarceration, fines, probation, restitution, and more. If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to possess a firearm ever again. You need to speak with an experienced lawyer about the potential penalties for the charges you face, and how to best defend against these allegations.
For certain minor firearms offenses, prosecutors may charge you with a class A, B, or C misdemeanor. Several weapons offenses are class A misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Most firearms and weapons offenses are felonies punishable by the following:
- Class D Felony – Up to six years in prison, and fines up to $10,000.
- Class C Felony – Three to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $10,000.
- Class B Felony – Five to 20 years in prison, and fines up to $15,000.
- Class A Felony – Six to 30 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
Collateral Consequences of a Firearms or Weapons Conviction
If you are convicted or plead guilty to a gun or other weapons crime, the consequences will go beyond the statutory penalty. After you pay your fine, complete your term of incarceration, and even complete your probation period, you will deal with the repercussions of having a permanent criminal record.
Some of the most common collateral consequences of a weapons or firearms conviction include:
- Difficulty continuing your education
- Ineligibility for or trouble maintaining certain professional licenses
- Difficulty finding and keeping a job
- Difficulty being approved for rental housing
- Immigration consequences
- Reduction in child custody or visitation
- Loss of the right to vote while incarcerated
- Loss of the right to own or possess a firearm, if convicted of a felony
Defending Against a Firearms or Weapons Charge
When a prosecutor charges you with a gun crime or other weapons offense, it is important to speak with our Fayetteville weapons charges attorneys. Our highly experienced lawyers will review your case piece by piece, looking for the strongest angle to utilize in court.
Potential defenses we will review for our case include:
- Mistake of identity – You may be wrongly accused of a crime you did not commit, and we may submit evidence of an alibi in court.
- Lack of Intent – Certain crimes require intent. We may submit evidence to the court that you lacked the requisite intent to commit the crime.
- Self-Defense or Defense of Others – We may seek to prove that you acted to protect yourself or others from immediate danger, and you only used the amount of force necessary to avoid serious injury or death.
- Insufficient Evidence – Prosecutors must prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. We might argue in court that there is not enough evidence to meet this standard.
- Illegal Traffic Stop – If your weapons charges arose from a traffic stop, we may argue in court that the police performed an illegal stop and any evidence or findings arising from the stop is inadmissible in court.
- Illegal Search and Seizure – We may argue the police performed an unconstitutional and illegal search and seizure of your person, vehicle, home, office, or other property and that the resulting evidence is inadmissible.
- Lack of Possession – It may be that the relevant firearm or weapon was not yours, and was owned and controlled by someone else at the time.
Contact Our Fayetteville Weapons Charges Attorneys Today
When you’re facing criminal charges relating to firearms or other weapons, it’s important to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. At The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP, we are here to discuss the potential consequences of these charges as well as how we can defend you in court. To learn more about the weapons or firearms charges brought against you, contact us today at (479) 316-3760 to schedule a free consultation of your case.