Firearms charges can be some of the most serious types of charges. Especially convictions for felony-firearm, which carries mandatory terms of years in prison. The case of People v. Parkmallory discusses a case involving firearms charges.
Parkmallory was charged with felon in possession of a firearm and felony-firearm. The allegations in the case were that Parkmallory and his girlfriend took turns firing a gun into the air on New Years Eve.
Before trial, Parkmallory’s attorney stipulated (agreed) that Parkmallary had a previous felony conviction which made him ineligible to possess a firearm. At trial, Parmallory’s attorney argued that Parmallory never had possession of the gun, that his girlfriend just threw it to him when she got scared.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm
A person convicted of a felony may not possess a firearm for a certain number of years. Fore more serious felony convictions, the person may be required to have his gun rights restored by a circuit court judge before ever possessing a gun again. A felon who is ineligible to possess a firearm can be charged with this crime, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Felony-firearm is a charge that means a person had a firearm in their possession while committing a felony. In this case, the felon in possession of a firearm would have been the underlying offense that lead to felony-firearm.
Problems at Trial
The problem in this case is that Parkmallory was actually eligible to own a firearm. His attorney should have never stipulated before trial that he was ineligible to own the weapon. By doing so, the attorney effectively cut off a very easy path to victory.
Parkmallory’s previous conviction (making him a felon) was for receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle. This type of felony is an “unspecified felony” under the law. For a felon to be eligible for to possess a firearm after this type of conviction, three years must have passed, and a person must have completed probation or incarceration and paid off all fees. After this, the person’s gun rights are restored automatically.
So-called “specified felonies” are more serious felonies. To be eligible for possession of a firearm after a conviction for a specified felony, five years must have passed, the person must have completed probation or incarceration, paid all fines, and petition a circuit court for restoration of gun rights.
Parkmallory’s conviction was for an unspecified type of felony, and not requiring a gun rights restoration petition.
Parkmallory had been put on probation and later terminated from probation without any more requirements. His rights to possess a firearm were restored automatically.
The Court’s Decision
The Court ruled that the attorney in this case provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to force the prosecution to prove that Parkmallory was ineligible to possess the firearm. Had the attorney presented evidence that Parkmallory was eligible to possess a firearm, the prosecution would have been forced to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Parkmallory could not possess the firearm, and Parkmallory would have won. Without evidence of felon in possession of a firearm, the felony-firearm conviction would not stand. Again, by stipulating that Parkmallory was ineligible, the case was basically lost before it started.
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