18 United States Code Section 922 (Possession Of A Firearm By A Convicted Felon)
A felon is one of the prohibited classes that may not possess a firearm.
In the case of a person who violates Section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in Section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be imprisoned not less than 15 years.
This is a strict liability crime. The defendant’s state of mind is irrelevant save the defense of entrapment by estoppel because it focuses on the conduct of government officials and not on the state of mind of the defendant. Entrapment by estoppel applies when an official tells a defendant that certain conduct is legal and the defendant believes the official. United States v. Thompson, 25 F.3d 1558 (11th Cir. 1994).
Insanity may be raised as a defense to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. United States v. Owen, 854 F.2d 432 (11th Cir. 1988).
Justification is also a defense. United States v. Deleveaux, 205 F.3d 1292 (11th Cir. 2000). There are four elements to this defense:
- The defendant was under unlawful and present, imminent and impending threat of death or serious bodily injury.
- The defendant did not negligently or recklessly place himself in a situation where he would be forced to engage in criminal conduct.
- The defendant had no reasonable legal alternative to violating the law.
- There was a direct causal link between the criminal action and the avoidance of the threatened harm.
The government can prove this offense by actual or constructive possession. United States v. Wright, 392 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2004).
Mere knowledge that a weapon is possessed by a co-conspirator is not sufficient to establish that a defendant constructively possessed a firearm. United States v. Gunn, 369 F.3d 1229 (11th Cir. 2004).
A felon may not possess ammunition. United States v. Hall, 77 F.3d 398 (11th Cir. 1996).