How much jail time do you get for federal gun charges?

Federal gun charge sentences differ depending on the circumstances. This table breaks down the sentences for various federal gun violations.

The two most common types of federal gun charges are possession of a firearm by a felon and what are often referred to as "924(c)" offenses. 924(c) offenses involve possessing, brandishing, or discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime-for example, a defendant who carries a firearm while making drug transactions will often get charged with a 924(c) violation in addition to drug trafficking.

Violations of 922(g), for possession of a firearm by a felon, carry no mandatory minimum sentence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years. Violations of 924(c), on the other hand, carry mandatory minimum time. Just as important, sentences for 924(c) must run consecutively (or "box-carred") with the sentence for any related drug or violent crime. Below is a chart of mandatory minimum and maximum sentences that accompany federal gun charges:

Description of Gun Crime

Statutory Minimum
Prison Sentence

Statutory Maximum
Sentence

Applicable Law
(Statute)

Using, Carrying, or Possessing a Gun in Furtherance of Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime

5 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(i)

Brandishing a Gun in Furtherance of Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime

7 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(ii)

Discharging a Gun in Furtherance of Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime

10 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(iii)

Possessing a Short-Barreled Rifle, Short-Barreled Shotgun, or Semiautomatic Assault Weapon in Furtherance of Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime

10 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(B)(i)

Possessing a Machinegun, Destructive Device, or Firearm Silencer / Muffler in Furtherance of Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime

30 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(B)(ii)

Second Offense Under § 924(c)

25 years

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(C)(i)

Second Offense Under § 924(c), when the Offense Involves a Machinegun, Destructive Device, or Firearm Silencer / Muffler

Life

Life

18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(C)(ii)

As shown, the type of gun involved, and the manner in which the firearm was used greatly affects the applicable mandatory minimum sentence that will accompany a 924(c) violation. Note that the 25 year mandatory minimum sentence for a second 924(c) offense will apply even if a person is convicted of two 924(c) offenses simultaneously. That is, if a person is convicted of two counts of 924(c) on the same date, that person will face 5 years mandatory on the first count, and a consecutive, mandatory 25 years on the second count.

U.S. vs. J.R.
Charge: Mail Fraud (9 Counts), Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud
Facing: Three years in prison
Result: One year, One day

Our client was convicted of nine counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The government alleged that our client fraudulently obtained more than $115,000 from her former employer. At the sentencing hearing, the Judge granted our motion for a downward departure, sentencing our client to one year and one day. The government had asked the judge to sentence our client to several years.