A man from Wilmar recently pled guilty to three charges of weapons crimes after authorities conducted two searches on his rural property earlier this year.
The searches on the man’s property produced a sizable cache of rifles, shotguns, pipe bombs, and automatic weapons. Due to prior convictions, the man was ineligible to possess or own firearms.
His weapons charges consist of possessing an unregistered silencer, possessing an unregistered destructive device, and knowingly possessing a machine gun.
In this particular situation, the biggest issue was that the man was not allowed to have firearms at all and chose to ignore the law. However, there are a number of different laws regulating weapons in our state, and it is important to understand them if you want to stay out of trouble with law enforcement.
If you have already been charged, do not simply accept the conviction and the penalties that come with it. Contact an experienced attorney to help you build a defense that gives you the best chance at winning your case.
Here are several ways you could get charged with Minnesota weapons crimes:
A licensed dealer is permitted to sell rifles, shotguns or semiautomatic military-style assault weapons only to individuals age 18 or older. Handguns or handgun ammunition cannot be sold to anyone under age 21.
Failure to obtain a permit
Many weapons purchases require a background check and a permit before the purchase can be completed. If a dealer sells a weapon without performing these checks or transfers the weapon to the individual too soon, a charge may apply.
Unlawful private sales
Private firearms sales are not regulated as heavily as licensed dealer sales. However, private sellers can face charges if they sell a firearm to someone who uses it to commit a violent felony within one year of the purchase, charges may apply in some situations.
Minnesota law prohibits you from either purchasing a firearm while intending to provide it to an ineligible person, or knowingly selling a firearm to an ineligible person.
Possessing a firearm with a criminal record
Anyone who has a prior conviction for a violent crime, certain drug crimes or any felony loses the right to possess a firearm. Those who are under restraining orders may temporarily lose their right to possess firearms as well.
Mental health prohibitions
Anyone who has been committed to a mental institution, found not guilty by reason of mental illness, determined to be developmentally disabled or dangerous, is under prior or current treatment for chemical dependence, or declared mentally incompetent to stand trial by a judge cannot legally purchase or possess a firearm in Minnesota.
Undocumented immigrant restrictions
Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
Unlawful possession of fully automatic weapons
Only certain members of law enforcement, the Minnesota National Guard, and correctional facilities personnel are permitted to possess fully automatic weapons.
Only those with a legal permit to carry display or carry guns in certain public places in Minnesota. They must meet other requirements of age, residence, training, and eligibility before applying for a permit.
Use of a firearm in a school
There are strict regulations on who is permitted to use a firearm in a school. Typically, only law enforcement officers, military personnel, and senior school administrators have the right to possess a firearm while on school property.
Of course, knowing the law is only part of the battle when it comes to avoiding charges. Maybe you made a simple mistake. Or the police violated your rights during the arrest.
However you were charged, it is always possible to fight back until the case has been decided in a court of law. Be on the right side of that decision.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.