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Federal gun charges, Project Safe Neighborhoods

If you’re convicted of a felon in possession of a firearm crime in North Carolina’s state court at most you could face five or six years in prison, depending on the charge. The more serious the charge, the longer the time.

These charges include felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm (14-71.1), or possession, sale or buy a firearm with an altered serial number (14-160.2(B)).

Possession, buying, or selling a firearm with an altered serial number is a class H felony. Possession of a stolen firearm is a class H felony. Possession of a firearm by a felony is a class G felony.

At most, a person would face about 3 years in prison for a Class G felony. A class H felony would be about 2 1/2 years in prison.

In most cases, the person, if a plea is entered, will receive a lower sentence.

That said, pleading guilty to a gun charge is a risky move. That’s because the Federal Government can prosecute people separately in federal court even though they’ve been found guilty in state court. These duplicate prosecutions do not violate any Double Jeopardy rule, since the federal government is a different sovereign from the state government.

The federal government’s Project Safe Neighborhoods is a joint federal-state initiative whereby federal prosecutors seek out prosecutions of these typically state offenses that involve firearm offenses.

For a number of years, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina did not undertake many prosecutions of people on firearms charges. However, the number of prosecutions have started to increase, and so any gun conviction in the state’s court could open the defendant up to later prosecution under the federal law.

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