Firearm Enhancements: Consequences of Conviction. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
Under Washington law, defendants convicted of certain felonies while “armed with a firearm” will receive a firearm enhancement in addition to the “standard” sentence of their crime.
How much time do you get for using a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony?
Anytime a court makes a finding of fact or a jury returns a special verdict that the accused or accomplice was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the crime, the court must apply a firearm enhancement of:
CLASS A FELONY
First Firearm Offense 5 years
Subsequent Firearm Offense 10 years
CLASS B FELONY
First Firearm Offense 3 years
Subsequent Firearm Offense 6 years
CLASS C FELONY
First Deadly Weapon 18 months
Subsequent Firearm Offense 3 years
What is a Firearm?
“Firearm” means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder. RCW 9.41.010. In the law’s eyes, using a firearm in the commission of a felony is different and more serious than using a deadly weapon. Firearm enhancement sentences are not subject to the standard reductions in prison for good behavior.
What is armed with a Firearm?
In some cases, possession of a weapon while committing a felony is pretty straightforward. If you assault someone by shooting them, a felony firearm enhancement will be found. However, the law has a term of art called constructive possession and this, as criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, is where we spend a lot of time arguing. A person is in “constructive possession” of a firearm for the purposes of a firearm enhancement only if there is “a nexus between the defendant, the crime, and the weapon.” State v. Gurske, 155 Wash.2d 134, 138, 118 P.3d 333 (2005). Constructive possession and nexus to the crime is regularly litigated in the criminal court system by criminal defense attorneys | lawyers because the mere presence of a weapon at a crime scene may be insufficient to convict someone of a firearm enhancement. The case law surrounding this point is complex and very fact specific and we have a great deal of experience making this argument, as prosecutors do like to overstep in this area.
What Felonies are Subject to a Firearm Enhancement?
All felony offenses except those where the use of a firearm as an element of the offense, are subject to a firearm enhancement (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.94A.533). What does this mean? It means almost every felony conviction except: Possession of a Machine gun, Possessing a Stolen Firearm, Drive-by Shooting, Theft of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of a
Firearm 1 and 2, and Use of a Machine Gun can and will have a firearm enhancement applied to it.
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch and effective counsel who takes the time to fight vigorously to make sure their rights are well protected. Whether our role is as counsel, negotiator or courtroom litigator, we have years of experience in and out of court fighting and resolving cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.