Federal Criminal Defense – Possession by Restricted Persons

What is Possession by a Restricted Person?

Possessing or using any type of pathogen with the intent to harm others is considered a very serious offense in the United States. The legal repercussions are grave, and those who are found guilty of breaking this law can face long prison sentences or even life in prison.

Any involvement with harmful biological substances - including enabling other people to use them - is strictly forbidden by law and can result in harsh penalties. It is important to remember that biological weapons are dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Therefore, it is essential that citizens stay aware of the risks associated with them and abide by all applicable laws.

More specifically, those who are considered “restricted persons” are not allowed by federal law to ship, transport, or possess any biological agent or toxin that affects interstate or foreign commerce under 18 USC § 175b. If you are facing a federal criminal charge or are being investigated for one, then it is critical to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

What is a Restricted Person?

The term “restricted person” refers to an individual who:

  • Is currently under indictment for a crime that carries a sentence of over one year
  • Has been convicted by any court of a crime with a sentence of over one year
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is an illegal user of a controlled substance
  • Is an alien illegally residing in the United States
  • Has been adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to any mental institution
  • Is an alien (other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence) from a country that the Secretary of State has determined to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, or acts for or on behalf of, or operates subject to the direction or control of, such a country
  • Has been discharged from the U.S. Armed Services under dishonorable conditions
  • Is a member of, acts for or on behalf of, or operates subject to the direction or control of, a terrorist organization

What are the Potential Penalties for Possession by a Restricted Person?

Anyone who is a restricted person by the definition stated above that knowingly violates 18 USC § 175b by possessing, transporting, or shipping a biological agent or toxin can face a fine, up to 10 years imprisonment, or both. However, this law does not apply when it comes to activities that are officially approved by the U.S. government. Other penalties, such as probation and restitution, are also possible if the circumstances allow.

What are Some Common Defenses to a Possession by Restricted Person Offense?

An individual accused of possession by restricted persons may have a few potential defenses available. These include an argument that there was no interstate commerce involved in the alleged incident, as well as evidence of accidental or unknowing possession of the biological agent or toxin. Interstate commerce requires the substance to cross state lines in some way. Additionally, if the individual is not a restricted person according to the statutory definition, or if the evidence obtained against the person was obtained illegally, then this can also be used as a defense.

In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?

In the United States, federal criminal cases are tried in federal district courts based on their geographical locations. In Pennsylvania, there are three federal districts: Central District, Middle District, and Eastern District. Depending on the location of a crime involving a toxin or biological agent, it will be prosecuted in either Middle District Court or Eastern District Court if it occurred in the Central or Eastern District of Pennsylvania respectively.

What If I Want to Appeal?

If you disagree with a decision made by a federal district court, you can appeal to the relevant appellate court. For appeals from the Middle or Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is the correct court to file an appeal. It's crucial to remember that appeals are generally based on the record created at the district court and usually do not have any new evidence presented to the court to be considered. The only higher remaining court is the United States Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation. Its decisions are final and cannot be appealed. The justices at the Supreme Court carefully consider each case before them and decide which ones to hear – there is no legal right to a hearing before them. Their main motivations when deciding which cases to hear are those that have potential implications for matters of national interest.

How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with a crime, such as possession by a restricted person by the federal government, having experienced legal representation is critical. An experienced lawyer can properly assess your case and advise you on the best course of action to take. This may include deciding whether to go to trial or attempt to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor.

If you need help with this serious matter, reach out to the Lento Law Firm as soon as possible. Our team of professionals is here to answer any questions and provide skilled guidance every step of the way.

Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice

If you are being prosecuted for possession by a restricted person, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team today at 888-535-3686 or contact them online to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help defend your federal case.

Contact Us Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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