Under federal law, it is not only illegal to steal, or deal in stolen firearms or ammunition, but also to knowingly ship or possess these items as well - and a conviction for any of this conduct may result in a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment and the imposition of a substantial fine. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(i)-(j); 924(a), (l)-(m).
First, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(l), any person who steals any firearm which has traveled or moved in interstate or foreign commerce at any point shall be imprisoned by up to ten years. See, e.g., United States v. Richardson, No. 97 CR 5129, 2007 WL 4239508, at *4 (E.D. Ca. November 30, 2007). Similarly, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(m), any person who steals any firearm from any licensed dealer, manufacturer or collector may also be imprisoned by up to ten years. See, e.g., United States v. Requejo, 364 F. App'x 517, 520 (10th Cir. 2010).
Second, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(i), it is unlawful for any person to ship or transport in foreign or interstate commerce any firearm or ammunition while knowing or having reason to know that such firearm or ammunition has been stolen. A conviction for violating § 922(i) also results in a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment (see 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2)), however, in order to secure a conviction for this crime, the government must satisfy the "scienter requirement," i.e., they must establish the defendant's knowledge "that the firearm [or ammunition] ... was stolen." United States v. Thomas, 628 F.3d 64, 68 (2d Cir. 2010).
Third, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(j), it is unlawful for any person to receive, possess, conceal, sell or dispose of any firearm or ammunition, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such firearm or ammunition was stolen. Notably, this statute, as with violations of § 924(l) and (m) - requires that the firearm or ammunition at issue was shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce at some point, either before or after the firearm was stolen - this is the jurisdictional hook that permits these charges to be filed in federal court. 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). A conviction for violating § 922(j) results in a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment, see 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2), however, similar to § 922(i), the government must prove that the defendant "knew or had reason to know that the [firearm or ammunition] ... was stolen," in order to secure a conviction. United States v. Howard, 214 F.3d 361, 363 (2d Cir. 2000).
Hiring a top criminal defense attorney to defend you in any prosecution involving stolen firearms or any firearm offense is crucial and will ensure that every viable defense is explored and utilized on your behalf. Lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully handled countless of these cases, exploiting holes in the prosecution's evidence to achieve the best possible result for our clients. Contact us today at (212) 518-1001 for a free consultation.