Defenses to Gun Crimes
If you’ve been arrested for possession of a firearm or any other Boston gun crime, your freedom is on the line. Massachusetts police and prosecutors take weapons offenses very seriously, both in terms of their investigation and prosecution. However, the zeal with which law enforcement pursues gun crime convictions opens the door to the over prosecution of these offenses. However, there are many defenses to gun crimes, and you should not give up hope. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a respected criminal defense attorney with more than 25 years of experience defending the rights of clients arrested for all types of gun crimes. He has successfully resolved countless weapons cases, many before their even reach trial.Common Defenses to Gun Crimes
When discussing the defenses that apply to weapons offenses, they typically fall into two broad categories. The first are defenses that result in the case being withdrawn or dismissed through a pre-trial motion, often a motion to suppress physical evidence. The other category of defenses to gun crimes are those that involve a challenge to the state’s evidence at trial.Pre-Trial Gun Crime Defenses
The most common way you can get a Boston gun crime dismissed or withdrawn is for your criminal defense lawyer to litigate a motion to suppress. Among law enforcement, a gun arrest is a “notch” on an officer’s belt. Thus, police are constantly on the lookout for the opportunity to make a gun arrest. However, this can lead to aggressive policing that often crosses the line of what is constitutionally permissible.
Law enforcement officers must respect citizens’ rights when conducting any type of traffic stop or pedestrian investigation. Similarly, there are strict rules governing when an officer can obtain and execute a search warrant. The default rule is that officers need to establish probable cause before infringing on your freedom. Generally, this requires they obtain a warrant. That said, there are situations in which an officer is allowed to stop and search you without a warrant, but they still need a legal justification for doing so.
A pre-trial motion to suppress challenges the police officer’s actions that led to the discovery of the gun. For example, if an officer pulled over your vehicle for speeding, they can’t just pull you out of the vehicle and search the car. They need to have a reason for doing so.
In some cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to develop such a compelling pre-trial defense that the prosecution may consider withdrawing the case or offering reduced charges in exchange for an admission of some wrongdoing. This can help you avoid the most devastating consequences of a gun crime conviction.Weapons Defenses at Trial
Not every gun arrest lends itself to a motion to suppress. For example, if you gave a police officer consent to search your car, they do not need to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause (provided your consent was valid, which may give rise to another defense). However, there are still defenses to gun crimes available in these situations.
To prove you guilty of a weapons offense, the prosecution must establish that you “knowingly” had a firearm in your possession. In many gun cases, the weapon is not found on the person charged, but either in their car or home. Whenever a gun is not physically removed from you, there is the potential to argue that the prosecution cannot establish that you “constructively possessed” the weapon.
Constructive possession is a legal fiction that allows a judge or jury to find you possessed an item even if it was not on your person. However, to prove constructive possession, the prosecution must show that you knew of the item’s presence and had the ability and intent to exercise “dominion and control” over the object. This is a common and effective defense in cases where a gun was recovered from a car that did not belong to you, had multiple people inside, or when the gun was found in an area of the vehicle that was not readily accessible.Are You Charged with a Boston Gun Crime?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a gun crime, reach out to the Law Offices of Patrick J. Murphy for immediate assistance. Attorney Murphy is a veteran criminal defense lawyer who is dedicated to defending the rights of his clients facing all types of firearms and weapons offenses. He diligently scours police reports and other discovery to develop compelling defenses, looking to resolve cases as quickly as possible so his clients can move on with their lives. To learn more, and to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Boston criminal defense attorney, call (617) 367-0450 today.