Location:
SENTENCING; WEAPONS - FIREARMS;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Court Cases; Background;

OLR Research Report


March 19, 2013

 

2013-R-0186

SENTENCING FOR GUN-RELATED CRIMES

By: Christopher Reinhart, Chief Attorney

You asked for sentencing information for gun-related crimes.

SUMMARY

The Judicial Branch provided us with average sentencing data for 25 gun-related crimes with convictions during 2012, including conviction for attempt or conspiracy to commit and accessory to these crimes. Although the convictions occurred in 2012, the crimes might not have been committed that year.

The 25 crimes (734 convictions) range from permitting violations to committing manslaughter with a firearm. The number of convictions vary greatly by crime. There are very few convictions for some crimes, such as using a facsimile firearm near emergency personnel, 3rd degree sexual assault with a firearm, and criminal use of a firearm or electronic defense weapon (each with one conviction). And some gun-related crimes do not appear in this report because there were no convictions in 2012, such as certain permitting violations (CGS 29-28), violating safe storage as to minors provisions (CGS 29-37i), and 3rd degree burglary with a firearm (CGS 53a-103a). For some crimes, such as carrying a pistol without a permit, there are a large number of convictions (211).

Because the statutorily authorized penalties for these crimes vary greatly, the sentences judges imposed vary greatly. The longest average sentences in 2012 are for 1st degree manslaughter with a firearm, a class B felony punishable by five to 40 years in prison. For this crime, eight convictions received an average prison sentence of 334.5 months (27 years and 10.5 months) without any portion of the sentence suspended and five convictions received a partially suspended sentence after an average 244.8 months (20 years and four months) in prison. The shortest sentences are for carrying a loaded firearm under the influence, a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. For this crime, two convictions received an average 2.5 months in prison without any suspended sentence and one received a partially suspended sentence after 1.5 months in prison.

UNDERSTANDING THE DATA

The data used in this report is based on individual charges, not individual cases. An individual may (1) be convicted of multiple offenses in the same case and (2) have convictions in multiple cases during a year.

We do not have data on individual cases or the impact plea bargaining may have on sentencing for a specific charge. Someone convicted of several charges may receive a harsh sentence for one crime and a lesser sentence for another. The same may occur under a plea bargain. As an example, we identified one individual currently in prison whose most serious conviction is for carrying a pistol without a permit (CGS 29-35) but he has a total of 14 convictions. While carrying a pistol without a permit is punishable by a maximum of five years, his total prison sentence for all of the crimes is 50 years.

This report focuses on prison sentences and does not include other consequences of a conviction, such as fines and probation terms. Table 1 shows the penalties for the various classifications of crime in Connecticut.

Table 1: Table on Penalties

Felony

Prison Term

Fine

Class A felony (murder with special circumstances)

Life without the possibility of release

Up to $20,000

Class A felony (murder)

25 to 60 years

Up to $20,000

Class A felony (aggravated sexual assault of a minor)

25 to 50 years

Up to $20,000

Class A felony

10 to 25 years

Up to $20,000

Class B felony (1st degree manslaughter with a firearm)

Five to 40 years

Up to $15,000

Class B felony

One to 20 years

Up to $15,000

Class C felony

One to 10 years

Up to $10,000

Class D felony

One to 5 years

Up to $5,000

Class A misdemeanor

Up to one year

Up to $2,000

Class B misdemeanor

Up to six months

Up to $1,000

Class C misdemeanor

Up to three months

Up to $500

Class D misdemeanor

Up to 30 days

Up to $250

The Judicial Branch data includes convictions of attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime as well as those convicted as an accomplice. Attempt or conspiracy “are crimes of the same grade and degree as the most serious offense which is attempted or is an object of the conspiracy, except that an attempt or conspiracy to commit a class A felony is a class B felony” (CGC 53a-51). Someone convicted of attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence, other than a class A felony, is subject to that mandatory minimum sentence (see State v. Moran, 264 Conn. 593 (2003)).

Someone criminally liable as an accomplice can be prosecuted and punished as if he or she were the principal offender (CGS 53a-8). It appears that someone who is an accomplice in committing a crime that is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence would be subject to that mandatory minimum.

GUN-RELATED CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCING IN 2012

The Judicial Branch provided us with average sentencing data for gun-related crimes in 2012. The data identified 25 gun-related crimes with convictions in 2012. This does not include hunting crimes. We also exclude crimes that punish possessing or carrying a variety of weapons, such as possessing a weapon in a motor vehicle or on school grounds. These crimes punish possessing firearms and other weapons, such as metal knuckles and certain knives. It is likely that some convictions of these crimes involve firearms but it is unclear how many.

Table 2 displays each of these 25 crimes in numerical order by statutory citation, their penalties, number of convictions, average sentences, and whether the judge suspended any portion of a prison sentence imposed.

Table 2: Convictions and Average Sentences for Gun-Related Crimes in 2012

ILLEGALLY TRANSFERRING A PISTOL OR REVOLVER (CGS 29-33)

Penalty: D felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

9

37.3

Sentence Partially Suspended

9

27.3

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

4

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

22

-

CARRYING A PISTOL WITHOUT A PERMIT (CGS 29-35(a))

Penalty: One to five years in prison (one-year mandatory minimum unless mitigating circumstances exist), a fine of up to $1,000, or both (see CGS 29-37)

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

90

39.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

107

17.3

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

13

-

No Prison Sentence

1

-

Total

211

-

FAILING TO CARRY A PISTOL PERMIT (CGS 29-35(b))

Penalty: infraction (see CGS 29-37 for penalty)

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

1

12.0

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

2

-

Total

3

-

ALTERING FIREARM IDENTIFICATION MARK, NUMBER, OR NAME (CGS 29-36)

Penalty: Up to five years in prison, up to $1,000 fine, or both

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

7

20.6

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

3

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

10

-

MAKING A FALSE STATEMENT RELATED TO TRANSFERRING A FIREARM OTHER THAN A PISTOL OR REVOLVER (CGS 29-37e)

Penalty: D felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

4

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

4

-

ILLEGALLY TRANSFERRING AN ASSAULT WEAPON (CGS 53-202b(a)(1))

Penalty: C felony with a two-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

1

24.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

1

-

ILLEGALLY POSSESSING AN ASSAULT WEAPON—1st TIME VIOLATOR WHERE POSSESSION WAS PREVIOUSLY LEGAL (CGS 53-202c)

Penalty: A misdemeanor

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

1

12.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

2

*

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

 

-

Total

3

-

ILLEGALLY POSSESSING AN ASSAULT WEAPON (CGS 53-202c)

Penalty: D felony with a one-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

4

12.75

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

4

-

USING A FIREARM TO COMMIT A CLASS A, B, OR C FELONY (CGS 53-202k)

Penalty: Mandatory minimum five years in addition and consecutive to any term imposed for the underlying felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

10

60

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

10

-

TRAFFICKING IN FIREARMS (CGS 53-202aa)

Penalty: C felony if involves less than five firearms, B felony if involves five or more

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

3

100.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

3

-

ILLEGALLY DISCHARGING A FIREARM (CGS 53-203)

Penalty: C misdemeanor

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

9

*

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

7

-

No Prison Sentence

6

-

Total

22

-

CARRYING OR USING A FACSIMILE FIREARM (CGS 53-206c(c))

Penalty: B misdemeanor

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

4

*

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

7

-

No Prison Sentence

5

-

Total

16

-

USING A FACSIMILE FIREARM NEAR EMERGENCY PERSONNEL (CGS 53-206c(d))

Penalty: B misdemeanor

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

1

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

1

-

CARRYING A LOADED FIREARM UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL (CGS 53-206d(a))

Penalty: B misdemeanor

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

2

2.5

Sentence Partially Suspended

1

1.5

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

5

-

No Prison Sentence

3

-

Total

11

-

1ST DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-55a)

Penalty: B felony punishable by five to 40 years in prison, with a five-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

8

334.5

Sentence Partially Suspended

5

244.8

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

13

-

2ND DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-56a)

Penalty: C felony with a one-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

3

120

Sentence Partially Suspended

0

-

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

3

-

2ND DEGREE ASSAULT WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-60a)

Penalty: D felony with a one year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

6

35.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

4

15.8

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

10

-

3RD DEGREE SEXUAL ASSAULT WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-72b)

Penalty: C felony with a two-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

1

36.0

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

 

-

Total

1

-

1ST DEGREE KIDNAPPING WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-92a)

Penalty: A felony punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison with one-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

5

240.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

2

108.0

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

7

-

2ND DEGREE BURLARY WITH A FIREARM (CGS 53a-102a)

Penalty: C felony with a one-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

1

60.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

2

36.0

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

3

-

POSSESSING A SAWED-OFF SHOTGUN OR SILENCER (CGS 53a-211)

Penalty: D felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

6

38.0

Sentence Partially Suspended

5

10.2

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

4

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

15

-

STEALING A FIREARM (CGS 53a-212)

Penalty: D felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

23

25.1

Sentence Partially Suspended

21

17.2

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

16

-

No Prison Sentence

1

-

Total

61

-

CRIMINAL USE OF A FIREARM OR ELECTRONIC DEFENSE WEAPON (CGS 53a-216)

Penalty: D felony with a five-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

0

-

Sentence Partially Suspended

1

10.0

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

0

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

1

-

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM OR ELECTRONIC DEFENSE WEAPON (CGS 53a-217)

Penalty: D felony with a two-year mandatory minimum

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

123

39.6

Sentence Partially Suspended

64

29.2

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

3

-

No Prison Sentence

0

-

Total

190

-

CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A PISTOL OR REVOLVER (CGS 53a-217c)

Penalty: D felony

Type of Prison Sentence

Convictions

Average Prison Sentence

(months)

Sentence with No Portion Suspended

57

38.5

Sentence Partially Suspended

29

22.4

Prison Sentence Fully Suspended

21

-

No Prison Sentence

2

-

Total

109

-

*Records for this crime indicate a sentence above the statutory maximum. We cannot determine the correct average sentence at this time and the Judicial Branch is attempting to identify the problem.

CR:ro