January 14, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Charged with Felony Gun Possession - Just How Much Jail Time?

Breaking news at ECB, courtesy of Michael Lee, Wizards beat reporter, at Washington Post.com . Apparently plea discussions have broken down and Gilbert Arenas will be charged with felony gun possession.

Last week, I broke down the possible charges that Arenas would face here. Although there was spirited discussion in the comments section debating this issue, it appears that the grand jury or the U.S. Attorney's Office (as of right now it is unclear whether the charges stem from a grand jury indictment or an "information" filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office) does not believe that the Verizon Center is Gilbert Arenas' "place of business" within the places where carrying an unlicensed firearm would only result in a misdemeanor. As speculated in the link blog post, this was the most likely outcome from the grand jury.

For each felony charge, Arenas will face a maximum penalty of 5 years incarceration and a $5,000 fine. Each weapon will result in an independent charge. Even though it is undisputed now that there were four weapons, under the doctrine of merger, Arenas would only face one charge for the same incident because the same incident involved all four guns (therefore he would face a maximum of 5 years in prison -- not 20 years, five for each gun).

ECB will continue to track this story as two of the four of us are both sports fans and law geeks.

10 Responses:

Justin said...

I just read that it was filed as "information". My understanding is that means he will most likely get no to very little jail time.

In all honestly the whole thing is a little bit crazy. Most comments I see from people following the story want his head, and it seems like they are getting it. I don't understand what Gilbert did which is so wrong. Stupid for sure, wrong yup, against the law yes, but where is the malicious intent? When is stupidity cause for jail time?

Here is the thing that really gets me. Here these people are (pro athletes) worth millions of dollars (prime targets for robbery) travelling all over the country and its a felony to carry an unloaded gun depending on where they are located. Doesn't sound like the land of the free to me.

Law question. What about states respecting other states laws? Like drivers licences and marriage licences with respect to gun licences. How do security persons get to carry across state lines? Or do they?

Russell said...

"When is stupidity cause for jail time?"

Reckless endangerment, most manslaughter cases esp the "involuntary manslaughter", drunk driving, texting while driving (will be)...

I'm not one of the lawyers here, so I'm sure there are more examples.

Jeremy said...

@ Justin:

If someone is licensed to carry a gun in one jurisdiction and they are traveling, ordinarily under the "full faith and credit clause" of the U.S. Constitution, one state will accept the license issued by another state and recognize the right of the person to carry the same licensed weapon in that state if such a weapon is allowed under that state laws (for example, if Utah allows you to have a licensed Uzi and Maryland does not - Maryland would not recognize the Utah-issued license to carry something that is outlawed in its state... however, if both Virginia and Maryland allow you to have the same type of licensed weapon, Maryland would recognize the Virginia-issued license for that weapon during your travels through Maryland).

The problem for Arenas is that he was unlicensed. He could also face federal charges for bringing the unlicensed weapons across state lines from his residence in Virginia to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This is largely overlooked right now. It is unlikely, in my mind, that if Arenas cops a plea to local charges in D.C., which appears likely, that the feds would charge him for the same offense but under a different angle, even though they'd be able to do so.

Justin said...

@Russell I knew as soon as I wrote that comment that I would get a response. Your examples however get at the point I was trying to make. They aren't just stupidity but reckless stupidity with high chances of or the actual hurting of others. One could argue that by bringing the guns into the work place it was reckless and constituted an increase in chance of harm onto others. The rumoured reaction of the other player loading his gun certainly backs this up.

My comment however was directed more at the people who use the argument that he's doing idiotic things (not just the guns but the twitter messages, the finger shooting, and general laugh it off attitude) as justification for wanting to lock him up and throw out the key. There was another NBA player who recently was suspended for 7-9 games for actually shooting his gun outside a nightclub. The difference in punishment (within the NBA) seems to have more to do with his reaction to the event than the actual event itself.

Russell said...

Justin, understood, and I agree the punishment by the NBA (and other leagues when it's their turn) seems arbitrary at times.

But for Arenas, his blatant lack of remorse is concerning because it indicates he would be willing to repeat his crime(s). Also, it's my understanding that expressions of remorse and contrition can factor into sentencing significantly in many criminal cases, when the judge uses his/her discretion to lean toward the lesser (or harsher) side of the sentencing guidelines. So there would be justification for his attitude leading to more jail time. The lawyers can chime in on that too.

gpb said...

(sarcasm)I represented myself in traffic court for about 15 minutes trial time and am qualified to have a legal opinion*.

The only suitable form of remorse is crying in public. Arenas will have shamed himself so severely in doing so that all would be forgiven. As David Stern feeds off the tears of NBA players, he would abandon all other forms of punishment.(/sarcasm)

Arenas could have done worse. Anything happening to JCrit legalwise? He's dropped out of the news almost other than the references to what happened.

* - I was found guilty because the cop showed up. Alas.

Jeremy said...

They executed a search warrant on Crittendon's house and didn't find any weapons. Not exactly hard to dispose of guns when you have 20 days notice. The prosecutors are still investigating and hence the interviews with teammates over what happened. Gil got himself into trouble legally with his idiotic Tweets wherein he admitted conduct. Not as easy to bring charges when the only basis for those charges is uncooperative witness testimony (i.e. interviews with teammates about what happened since Crittendon kept his mouth shut)

J-Red said...

@Justin: The bottom line is that gun crimes are some of the least logical. Often the mere possession of the firearm in certain settings is enough to trigger the crime, no matter the intent or knowledge.

J-Red said...

Especially in the District...

gpb said...

JCrit update.


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