One of the more controversial laws on the books in both federal jurisdictions and many state jurisdictions is the crime of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Under Federal law and here in the State of Florida, it is a felony for a convicted felon to possess ammunition. It is a crime whether there is a firearm involved or not. Therefore, a 75 year old man who was convicted 40 years ago for a tendering a worthless check who is pulled over and found in possession of an old bullet that someone else left in his vehicle could be convicted of Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon if the prosecution can prove knowledge and possession (whether actual or constructive. A person can be sentenced up to 10 years in federal court, and in the State of Florida, can be sentenced to up to 15 years. The law provides for some very harsh consequences to often times benign behavior. Although the law is designed to keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of convicted felons, the wide net often catches those not specifically intended to be caught, like our 75 year old worthless check felon.
So those are the criminal consequences of possession of even one bullet (without a gun to make it dangerous). But what are the immigration consequences? The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recently answered that question in Matter of Oppedisano. The BIA held that a conviction for Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon is an Aggravated Felony for immigration purposes. Aggravated felonies have extremely harsh consequences for immigrants. No matter how long you’ve lived in the United States, and no matter how long you’ve had a green card, an aggravated felony conviction will almost inevitably result in deportation, with very few exceptions.
This case serves as another warning to those who have been convicted of a felony and who are not U.S. citizens. Most cases of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon arise when a group of individuals are stopped in a car and there is a gun and/or ammunition in the car and everyone is arrested for constructive possession. This is commonly referred to as guilt by association. Convicted felons who are not U.S. citizens must be ever more vigilant in ensuring that the people they spend their time with are not in possession of illicit or illegal items.
Matter of Oppedisano can be found here.