In State v. Harbison, 2018 Tenn. LEXIS 7, the Tennessee Supreme Court recently held that multiple convictions for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony do not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. Harbison was convicted of three counts of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony wherein the underlying felonies were three counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter involving three separate victims. Even though only one firearm was used in the commission of these offenses, the multiple convictions did not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy.
The Court’s opinion can be found at http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/harbison.lajuan.opn_.pdf
Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Harbison, the State will almost certainly continue to charge multiple counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-1324(b), when there are multiple underlying felonies and victims regardless of whether only one firearm was utilized.
The penalties associated with violent gun crime can be particularly harsh. A conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony can result in a felony conviction in addition to the underlying felony as well as sentencing consecutive to the underlying felony. Convictions for employing a firearm also carry mandatory minimum sentences to the department of correction as well as enhanced punishment for those with prior convictions. As such, it is imperative that anyone accused of a crime involving a firearm seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Legislature is often making changes to the criminal code, and the Courts are constantly shaping how the criminal laws should be interpreted.
Stephens Law, PLC is a Nashville-based law firm with a team of criminal defense attorneys available to assist individuals facing gun charges in Tennessee. Our attorneys are former prosecutors who have what it takes to properly analyze a criminal case and prepare a defense.