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Press Release

Convicted Felon who Fled from Police Pleads Guilty to Drug and Gun Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Joseph Hamilton, 30, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee announced the guilty plea today.

According to information presented in court, on October 27, 2017, Memphis Police observed Hamilton driving a silver Infiniti G35 eastbound on East Shelby Drive with a license plate registered to a different vehicle. The license plate also had a 2018 decal that belonged to a different plate. A traffic stop was then initiated. The defendant did not have a driver’s license, but provided his social security number to the officer. After the officer determined that the defendant’s license was suspended, the defendant was instructed to exit the vehicle. The defendant slammed the door to his car, made a "U-turn," and sped away. The officer had to move to avoid being struck by the vehicle. Hamilton then disregarded a traffic signal and crashed his vehicle with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the hospital in non-critical condition.

After the crash, Hamilton ran into a wooded area with a red and white backpack. While the officer was chasing the defendant, the defendant tripped and fell. The officer caught up with the defendant and arrested him. The defendant spontaneously stated that he ran because he did not want to go to jail for the weed and gun.

While searching the backpack, officers recovered a large bag of marijuana and two mason jars containing small baggies of marijuana, totaling approximately 100 grams. An opened box of sandwich baggies and a marijuana grinder were also recovered. Officers recovered $306.73 on Hamilton and a Ruger .45 caliber pistol from the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle. Hamilton was also a convicted felon at the time of this offense.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "Convicted felons who possess firearms in connection with drug distribution are inherently dangerous individuals. This conviction and potential sentence will remove a violent offender from the streets, and will protect public safety. We are FED UP with gun crime in Memphis, and will continue to aggressively prosecute prohibited and dangerous offenders with firearms. Gun Crime is Max Time."

On July 11, 2018, Hamilton pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. He faces a minimum of 15 years up to life imprisonment. The defendant still has an unrelated murder charge pending in Division 7 of Shelby County’s Criminal Court stemming from his alleged shooting at a Whitehaven McDonald’s, resulting in the murder of one individual and the serious injury to another.

Hamilton is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Parker.

The Multi-Agency Gang Unit investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. AttorneyMarques Young and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryce Phillips are prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

Updated July 12, 2018