October 13, 2020
The Department of Justice announced today that it has charged over 14,200 people with various kinds of firearms offenses in 2020, with potentially more to come. The DOJ noted that it was able to arrest and charge so many people “despite the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the criminal justice process,” though does not indicate how many of these individuals remain in jail without bond and without the ability to social distance or prevent contracting a severe illness from COVID-19.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta announced that its office brought in at least 336 of the 14,200 firearms cases, and the charges include possession of a firearm by someone in a prohibited class (such as felon, illegal alien, or drug user), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime of drug trafficking offense (924(c)), unlawful purchase of a firearm, and false statements in connection with registering a firearm with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, such as by lying on an ATF Form.
The aggressive approach taken by the feds in bringing these charges should be monitored by practicing attorneys, both for the impact it will have on already-packed and back-logged dockets and in light of recent Supreme Court decisions making it more difficult for prosecutors to convict individuals of certain firearm charges, such as the holding in Rehaif which now requires an individual to know they were in a prohibited class before they can be convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Click here to read the DOJ’s press release.