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"This isn't a good day fellas." Those were the words of rapper Ja Rule as he left a Manhattan court house after being sentenced to two years in prison on gun charges. The 34-year-old rapper (real name: Jeffrey Atkins) was caught with a loaded gun in his car after leaving a Lil' Wayne concert in 2007.
The arrest, which came the same night as Lil Wayne's gun possession charge in a separate incident, was the result of a routine traffic stop for speeding.
After smelling marijuana in the car, the cops also discovered a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun was sitting in the driver's side door. Two years in prison followed by probation was the plea agreement Ja Rule accepted just a week before he was scheduled to go to trial. The Ja Rule plea bargain seems to be a wise choice as he could have been sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison if convicted by a jury.
"Because of your guilty plea here today you'll have a record of having committed a violent felony, this is a very serious matter," CBS News quotes the presiding judge in the case. Although serving time in jail often becomes fodder for hit rap songs, the presence of a violent felony on a criminal record stays with an individual (rapper or not) long after his or her time in prison.
A violent felony is essentially any criminal act that presents a serious risk of injury to another person. Here, carrying a loaded gun is not only a crime but can also have deadly consequences. In addition to jail time and punishments stemming directly from a conviction, the presence of a felony on a record can affect employment and housing issues as well as elevate future criminal charges.