Gun Charges & Weapons
The unlawful possession of a firearm in Massachusetts is an exceptionally serious offense. Illegal weapons crimes are governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, section 10. While protecting the Constitution’s right to bear arms, the law prohibits the knowing possession of a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, outside of an individual’s residence or place of business, or without a valid license to carry a firearm, or without having any specific permits required for the particular firearm in question. The statute defines possession as either having the firearm on one’s person or in one’s car.
The statute provides a mandatory minimum of 2.5 years in state prison, or 18 months in the house of correction. The statute also precludes the possibility of parole for anyone convicted of this offense until at least 18 months of the sentence is served. For second offenses, the mandatory minimum increases to 5 years, and for third offenses, to 7 years. After any conviction, the firearm the defendant possessed is automatically forfeited to the Commonwealth. The statute also has heightened sentences for the illegal possession of especially dangerous weapons. For example, if an individual is convicted of the illegal possession of a machine gun or a sawed-off shotgun, he can be punished by life imprisonment in state prison.
In order to secure a conviction for the unlawful possession of a firearm, the prosecutor must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant possessed the firearm. This means that he actually had it on his person, or it was found in his car.
Second, the prosecutor must prove that the firearms is actually a firearm. Under the statute, a firearm is defined as a pistol, revolver, or other weapon, whether loaded or unloaded, from which a shot or bullet can be discharged, with a barrel length less than 16 inches. The prosecutor thus has to prove that the item found on the defendant meets this definition.
Third, the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant knowingly possessed that firearm. This means that if another individual hid the weapon in the defendant’s car, or put it in his backpack without the defendant knowing, the defendant cannot be convicted.
Fourth, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant did not have a valid license to carry or other required registration card for that firearm.
Another firearm offense, under both state and federal law, is known as “felon in possession of a firearm.” If an individual is convicted of certain felonies, he or she will lose the right to own a gun and can be punished under both state law and federal law if found with a weapon.
Finally, Massachusetts has many laws and regulations related to owning a firearm. For example, firearms must be stored in locked, secure containers. In addition, every firearm must have certain safety devices, and firearm owners must be licensed and complete various safety training programs. Individuals who sell firearms must themselves be licensed, and must follow certain procedures, including maintaining records and checking for licenses, when selling firearms.
The gun industry is thus heavily regulated, both locally and nationally, and the government prosecutes gun charges forcefully. If you have been charged with any gun possession violation, the best way to protect yourself is to contact the expert gun crimes defense attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman.
Our team of gun crimes defense attorneys has been defending against all varieties of state and federal weapons charges for decades. We have extensive experience dealing with the Commonwealth’s special gun prosecution units, and we have the resources and skill to stand up for our clients’ rights. Most importantly, we are accessible to our clients throughout the process of resolving their cases. Your case will be managed by a senior member of our criminal defense team who will keep you updated on all developments in your case, and who will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to address your concerns.
Altman & Altman’s criminal defense attorneys are known for bold and innovative legal strategies, and we will strive to get you the best result possible. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.