What is a Serious Violent Felon, and What Does it Mean?
Being convicted of a felony carries countless consequences for people, regardless of whether or not they actually spend any time in prison. Aside from the stigma of being labeled a felon, these individuals also lose certain rights and freedoms that the rest of us may take for granted.
One of those rights lost is the ability to possess a firearm, and a violation of that prohibition can carry severe consequences. For those convicted of “serious violent felonies,” the stakes are even higher. Indiana classifies certain offenses as serious violent felonies, and anyone possessing a firearm after having a conviction for a serious violent felony faces a significant criminal charge.
So how does one become a serious violent felon, or “SVF?” Indiana Code 35-47-4-5 provides the answer. In essence, a serious violent felon is one who has been convicted of a serious violent felony. That alone is not much help, but the code provides a list of the offenses which will classify an individual as a SVF. The offenses listed below are offenses in the Indiana Code, but similar out of state convictions may also qualify one as a SVF. The SVF qualifying offenses are:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Reckless homicide (not using a vehicle)
- Some battery offenses, including aggravated battery and some sexual battery offenses
- Criminal confinement
- Criminal deviate conduct
- Child molesting
- Some assisting a criminal offenses
- Some resisting law enforcement offenses
- Some penal institution offenses, like escape and trafficking with an inmate
- Criminal gang intimidation
- Some stalking offenses
- Dealing in or manufacturing cocaine or a narcotic drug
- Dealing in methamphetamine
- Dealing in a Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V substance
Not all of these offenses would be considered “violent” by many people, but these are the offenses Indiana has elected to include in the definition of a serious violent felony. As a result of a felony conviction, one is generally ineligible to possess a firearm without breaking both federal and state law. However, one who has a conviction for one of the offenses listed above violates a specific Indiana Code provision prohibiting a SVF from possessing a firearm.
Indiana Code 35-47-4-5(c) states: “A serious violent felon who knowingly or intentionally possesses a firearm commits unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a Level 4 felony.” One facing a Level 4 felony could serve anywhere from 2 to 12 years in prison, so being a SVF and possessing a firearm is an offense that carries significant possible penalties.
A charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF is often filed along with other charges, as it is not unusual for a firearm to be discovered after police contact resulting from a separate offense or investigation. Given that such a charge may be but one of many, it is important to discuss your case with an attorney who is familiar with cases like yours.
The attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC are here to help you or a loved one navigate your criminal case. If you are facing a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a SVF, give us a call to discuss your case. There are often difficult evidentiary issues on both sides of an unlawful possession by a SVF case, and we can evaluate this and any other accompanying charge. Give the experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call 24/7 at 317-870-0019, or send an email to email@example.com.