Possession of a machine gun or other full automatic firearm is a serious crime in Wisconsin. Specifically, it’s a Class H felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison. This 6 year prison term breaks down into 3 years initial confinement followed by 3 years extended supervision. Class H felony charges also include fines of up to $10,000.00.
This is a serious charge and many times prosecutors request prison sentences for individuals convicted of this offense. This is especially the case in urban parts of Wisconsin, such as Dane, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties. These situations often increase in severity if the defendant is a felon, as he’s suddenly exposed to additional criminal liability. Possession of a machine gun as a felon not only exposes the defendant to this Class H felony, but adds an additional 10 years of criminal liability for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
When facing serious criminal charges, we think it’s the best idea to hire serious criminal defense attorneys. While many attorneys will take your money, not all are equipped to defend serious felony-level criminal charges like this. Hiring the wrong attorney could result in an improper defense and a quick prison sentence. At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., we regularly defend individuals throughout Wisconsin facing felony charges. Our entire law firm is dedicated to fighting cases just like this. To speak with one of our defense lawyers and to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us at (414) 270-0202.
Section 941.26(1g)(a) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes the law related to possession of a machine gun. It indicates:
941.26(1g)(a): No person may sell, possess, use or transport any machine gun or other full automatic firearm.
A later statute provides the penalty:
941.26(2)(a): Any person violating sub. (1g) (a) is guilty of a Class H felony.
Many statutes in Wisconsin are incredibly long, complex, and difficult to understand. This one is simple. Section 941.25(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes defines machine guns:
(a) Any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.
While many individuals don’t consider burst firearms full automatic, they qualify as illegal and can be charged under this statute. The law does not specify exactly how many times the gun must first per one pull of the trigger. Instead, the jury instructions and law make clear that to qualify as full automatic, the requirement is that one trigger pull results in more than one bullet being fired. That means that a burst of two, three, four, or any other number of shots makes the weapon full automatic. Anything more than one is full automatic.
Jury instructions provide a way for the public to better understand criminal law. These instructions are often used in court: they’re read to the jury as the court instructs on various aspects of law, they’re read out loud to the defendant during a plea hearing, and they’re used by defense attorneys, prosecutors, and members of the public in various other scenarios. Jury instructions dealing with substantive law are important because they break crimes down into separate parts, called elements. Prosecutors must prove each of the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt at trial in order to sustain a conviction against the defendant. Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1341A provides the elements of possession of a machine gun or other full automatic weapon:
Frequently prosecutors pile firearms charges on top of each other. You possessed a machine gun. Are you a felon? That’s an additional charge. Did you shoot the weapon at someone else? That’s another charge. Did you even simply point the weapon at someone else? That’s another example of an additional criminal charge you could face. Potential time in prison stacks up quickly, which is one of the reasons we believe it’s important to make the correct decision when hiring a criminal defense attorney.
At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., 100% of our firm is dedicated to criminal defense. That means we don’t practice civil law, such as divorces or planning estates. We believe that focusing only on criminal charges allows us to better defend individuals in your position. And our results speak for themselves, as our firm and our attorneys are constantly recognized as some of Wisconsin’s best.
Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to speak with our firm and to schedule a free initial consultation.