Doing a favor for a friend could land you behind bars

In August 2014, a Minnesota man participated in an online auction for three shotguns. According to MPR News, the man used an alias of “Ray Kmetz” during the auction in an effort to hide his identity. The man then gave the guns to the actual Raymond Kmetz, who opened fire on New Hope City Hall in Minneapolis and was eventually killed by police. The man who purchased the guns was charged with one count of making a false statement to acquire firearms on behalf of another person, which is a felony.

As a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis knows, even though this man was legally permitted to purchase weapons, he committed a felony when he made false statements to do so.

Straw gun purchasing

According to a study from the University of California-Davis, illegal straw gun purchasing is a substantial problem that is attempted between 30,000 and 40,000 times in a year. Someone who makes a straw purchase usually has a clean record and will therefore pass the background checks required to obtain the firearm. As a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis may have seen, the weapons are typically bought for people who have felony convictions and are therefore unable to legally acquire a weapon.

Researchers in the UC-Davis study found that the retailers who put the most effort into cutting down on straw man purchases are usually targets for gun thefts. The same dealers, who may have grown a reputation for looking the other way, are also more likely to sell guns that are later used in crimes.

Penalties involved

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has made a concentrated effort to deter straw purchases. In addition to educating retailers on how to detect sales that would be illegal, the ATF has partnered with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to make people aware of the penalties for purchasing a gun for someone else, which include the following:

  • A prison sentence of up to 10 years
  • Fines of up to $250,000
  • A felony conviction that will prevent future firearm ownership

Straw man purchasing is considered a federal crime because the purchaser either makes a false statement in regard to a federal firearms license or gives false identification. Not only is the person who buys the weapons charged with a felony, but so is the intended recipient because he or she aided and abetted in the violation.

Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Any mistake during the early stages of your interaction with the legal system can result in serious, lifelong consequences. Immediate access to a 24-hour lawyer for criminal defense in Minneapolis, MN, can help calm the situation and improve the likelihood of a desirable outcome.
The criminal defense process in Minnesota constitutes several steps, starting with investigations and culminating with appeals. This process can be long and exhausting. An arrest alone can leave you scared, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions. Making logical decisions in this state can be difficult, especially if it is your first time interacting with the criminal justice system.