Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.
Federal prosecutors have many tools to fight crime in their toolbox and one of their favorites to use is the federal statute that prohibits a previously convicted felon from possessing a firearm. The potential penalty is a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
In the the typical case, state law enforcement officers will arrest a suspect for some relatively minor offense, often a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor such as a DUI, or a minor felony such as possession of a small quantity of marijuana, and while searching the suspect, they find a firearm. When they subsequently check the suspect’s prior record, they discover a prior felony conviction.
Question: Now what do they do?
Answer: They contact the feds and turn the case over to them.
Because a federal felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm charge is a far more serious offense resulting in a much longer sentence than would be imposed in state court if the suspect were convicted. Usually the difference is many years versus a few months.
Felon in possession charges are also very easy to prove and most defendants plead guilty.
No muss, no fuss.
Oops, not so in North Carolina anymore.