The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 is a federal law that provides for a 15-year minimum sentence for individuals who are convicted of weapons crimes and who have previously been convicted of a violent crime or a "serious" drug offense at least three times. Life in prison is the maximum penalty provided for under the law.
Recently a man arrested in North Philadelphia was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The 40-year-old will have to spend 15 years in federal prison after he allegedly ran from police and threw a semiautomatic handgun into a storm drain.
Police in plainclothes say they were investigating some robberies in the area when the man started running. Because of his criminal record, which reportedly includes drug and weapons convictions, a federal prosecutor was able to seek penalties under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
Had the number of prior offenses been lower, a 10-year maximum might have applied for a gun conviction.
The defendant in this case will also have to be supervised for five years after his 15-year sentence.
Individuals accused of or convicted of felonies should have a realistic view of the possible penalties that could apply. Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm by a person who has been convicted of a felony. Aside from possible prison time, people convicted of violent crimes, sex crimes and serious drug crimes may be subjected to monitoring after serving a jail sentence.
In other words, the stakes are high, and Pennsylvania residents who have been accused of a federal crime should have an attorney with experience federal court.
Source: philly.com, "'Career criminal' gets 15 years for gun possession," Nov. 13, 2013