Weapons Charges Crimes and Consequences in Missouri

Missouri is known to have some of the least restrictive laws regarding the possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens. Still, there are many complicated laws and regulations which can lead to a firearms-related charge ranging from misdemeanor to very serious felony charges.

Certain individuals don’t have the right to carry a firearm. Common examples include those who have been convicted of a domestic violence charge, anyone who has been convicted of a felony but there are many scenarios in which someone may or may not be able to carry a firearm depending on their occupation, location, or history.

Below you will see an overview of Missouri law outlining some of the most common firearms-related charges which occur in Missouri.

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Armed Criminal Action

Any person who commits any felony under the laws of Missouri by, with, or through the use, assistance, or aid of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon is also guilty of the offense of armed criminal action and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not to exceed fifteen years.

If the person is unlawfully possessing a firearm, in which case the term of imprisonment shall be for a term of not less than five years.

If convicted no person shall be eligible for parole, probation, conditional release, or suspended imposition or execution of sentence for a period of three (3) years.

Armed Criminal Action: Second Offense

Any person convicted of a second offense of armed criminal action shall be punished by imprisonment by the department of corrections for a term of not less than five years and not exceed thirty years.

If the person is unlawfully possessing a firearm, the term of imprisonment shall be for a term not less than fifteen years. If convicted you will not be eligible for parole, probation, conditional release, or suspended imposition or execution of sentence for a period of five (5) years.

Armed Criminal Action: Third Or Subsequent Offenses

Any person convicted of a third or subsequent offense of armed criminal action shall be punished by imprisonment by the department of corrections for a term of not less than ten years.

If the person is unlawfully possessing a firearm, in which case the term of imprisonment shall be no less than fifteen years.

If convicted the person will not be eligible for parole, probation, conditional release, or suspended imposition or execution of sentence for a period of ten (10) years.

Gun criminal charges in Missouri

Unlawful Use of Weapons: A Misdemeanor to A Felony

Unlawful use of weapons charges are some of the most complicated criminal laws in Missouri with many exceptions and a huge variance in the severity of the penalty. Some of the most common ways you see an unlawful use of weapons charge in Missouri are as follows:

  • Carrying Firearms where restricted by Law.
  • Using a firearm in an angry or threatening manner; or has a firearm or projectile weapon readily capable of lethal use on his or her person.
  • While he or she is intoxicated, and handles or otherwise uses such firearm or projectile weapon in either a negligent or unlawful manner.
  • Discharges such firearm or projectile weapon unless acting in self-defense; or
  • Discharges a firearm within one hundred yards of any occupied schoolhouse, courthouse, or church building; or
  • Discharges or shoots a firearm at a mark, at any object, or at random, on, along or across a public highway or discharges or shoots a firearm into any outbuilding
  • Possession of Firearms and Drugs which are sufficient for a felony

Still, there are several other ways that you could be charged with unlawful use of weapons for a gun related charge and you should contact a gun charge defense lawyer at the Krupp Law Firm for advice.

Possession of a Defaced Firearm: B Misdemeanor

Each firearm has a serial number typically located on the side of the gun. It's always supposed to be on each firearm. So, that it is regulated by the federal government, generally by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). If the prosecutor wants to charge you with a firearm crime, they will run an ATF check on the serial number. That will tell them who is the registered owner of the firearm and when it was purchased. A defaced firearm is anything that has scrubbed the serial number off of the firearm. Witling down, painting over or glazing over the serial number. Making it where the serial number is not visible or not identifiable. If the government tries to run the number and they can not because it is illegible or has been tampered with, it will be considered a defaced firearm.

If you know there is a defaced firearm around, you should be nowhere near it. If you are a felon near a firearm, the government may or may not prove that you were not in possession of the firearm. If you are a felon near a defaced firearm, you have more incriminating evidence against you. It's not necessarily a strict liability crime that if you are in possession of a firearm and it's defaced you are outright guilty.  But it is as close as you can possibly get. All the prosecutor has to prove is that you had knowledge of it's existence in nature.

A person commits the crime of possession of a defaced firearm if he knowingly possesses a firearm that is defaced. There is also a charge for the act of defacing a firearm, which is an A misdemeanor but is a much less common charge.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm: D Felony

A charge related to felons being near a gun is a... a felon in possession of a firearm case, if someone already is convicted of a felony. Someone that is near a gun, they don't have to necessarily be holding it or touching it. We talk about possession being either actual possession or there's a letter of the law, we call it constructive possession.

Felon in a Possession of a Firearm.

If someone is already a convicted felon, this is important because even police misunderstand this. Usually, well and experienced prosecutors don't misunderstand it. They might miss it, but somebody might be on probation and get a suspended imposition of sentence, which I've talked about in other related videos, that we call an SIS. Well, that's not a conviction in Missouri. You might have pled guilty, but you're not a convicted felon, even if you pled guilty to the felony. So you have to be a convicted felon, and then you have to have possession of a firearm.

Actual Possession and Constructive Possession.

And so naturally you think of possession like in a football game. You have possession of the ball if you have the football in your hands and you have two feet in bounds or whatever. It's like some form of it being within your hands. But that is not how the law works in Missouri with regards to possession of almost anything, including your criminal-related charges such as possession of an illegal firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, or any drug-related possession cases. When we talk about possession, we're talking about actual possession. The actual holding of the firearm, but you could also be talking about constructive possession, which is kind of goofy.

We never think of constructive possession in real life, but constructive possession is essential that you know that it is within your presence. So if it is within your vehicle and you are the sole occupant of the vehicle, a jury may be allowed to presume that you possessed the firearm.

Now that's not necessarily the case. I have cases where the individual has gotten charged with possession of the firearm, or with some relation to the possession of the firearm, as a sole occupant of a vehicle. But just because they could presume that it was there doesn't mean that it is a guaranteed fact that they presume it's there. They still got to be able to prove that you would've known that it was there. Imagine you're driving someone else's car and it's in the trunk under a bag, which is not yours, under some clothes. If you're the sole occupant of the vehicle now, theoretically, the prosecutors might be able to put on a case that you were in constructive possession of the firearm. There is some question in there, but are they going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, certainly that you did possess the firearm, some questions are going to be asked.

Can a Felon Live in a Home With a Firearm?

Just because you have been convicted of a felony does not mean that it impinges upon another's constitutional right to own a firearm under the second amendment. Let's say a husband and a wife. The wife is a convicted felon for stealing, for instance. It doesn't have to be weapons-related. And the husband has firearms, which are registered to his name. Can you punish the wife because the husband exercises his constitutional rights to own the firearms? The answer is most likely not. I don't necessarily deal with certainties because the law as a practice is more of an art than a science in that it might be the case that you could live with another individual and they might have firearms and you're not allowed to have firearms. Of course, then if you're in close enough proximity or you're showing, or you're exercising control of the firearm, you're going to be able to be proven to have that firearm.

How Can They Prove I Am in Possession of a Firearm?

We talk about the sole occupant of a vehicle. If you are the sole occupant of a vehicle, you're the driver and it is in your center console, right. Or it is on your driver's side on the floor or in the side pocket. Do you think the police, or more importantly, the prosecutor is going to be able to prove that you could exercise control of that firearm? Probably. Is it possible that a jury could disbelieve it? Possibly. Have I had cases similar to that where it was disbelieved or there was some sort of evidence that went against possession? Yes. Those are the type of factors that they look at. How close are you to it and what's your access to it?

Is There Anytime a Felon Can Possess a Firearm?

I would say the general answer to that is no with the exception, although this is not the law per se. There are instances where an individual could be charged or could be a felon in possession of a firearm and act in self-defense. It's happened. So the fact that you are a felon may not preclude you from preventing someone from killing you. That's such a gray area. It may be that even under the law, technically you might be able to be charged, but it's unlikely that would happen.

So if somebody is, just using this fake example here, but let's say an active shooter is out and about, and they're out shooting bullets everywhere. Somebody pulls out a gun and shoots the active shooter, but if the person that shoots the active shooter happens to be a felon while defending themselves and others, are they going to be subject to a charge? Under the law, it is possible. In reality, they probably won't be. But it is one strange exception, which I have seen applied in real life before.

In Missouri, a person commits the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm if such person knowingly has any firearm in their possession and such person has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state, or of a crime under the laws of any state or of the United States which, if committed within this state, would be a felony; or such person is a fugitive from justice, is habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition, or is currently adjudged mentally incompetent.

How Krupp Law Firm Helps Your Case

The gun charge defense lawyers at Krupp Law Firm are experienced with gun-related charges. They are able to look at the evidence in your case and determine your strengths and weaknesses and whether your case should be taken to trial.

Contact a gun charge lawyer for St. Louis and St. Charles at the Krupp Law Firm for a free consultation on how to best proceed with your case.

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