There are few things as controversial as the debate about the right to own a firearm in this country. Gun ownership is a constitutional right, but many people are prohibited from owning one. This is especially true in Massachusetts. Although the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms to every citizen, regulations surrounding use and ownership are left to the state. In MA, firearm use and ownership is highly regulated and laws are strictly enforced.
Proper enforcement of gun laws is important given the dangers of misuse. But mistakes and misunderstandings happen. If you were charged with illegal possession of a firearm, a skilled Boston defense attorney can help you protect your rights. In MA, you may be facing illegal possession charges if:
- You are found in possession of a firearm without the required license.
- You are found in possession of an illegal firearm, such as a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun.
In the first scenario above, a mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months in prison may follow. Possession of a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun, however, carries even stiffer penalties. For this crime, you could be facing life in prison. MA’s gun laws are among the harshest in the country. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
Other Types of Possession Charges
In some cases, a person can commit a gun crime even if he is licensed to own the gun and the gun meets state regulations. Some of these situations include:
- Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony Offense: If you are found in possession of a firearm while committing a felony, you can be charged for more than the underlying crime. For example, if you are arrested for a fourth-offense OUI with your gun in the car, you will likely be charged with a felony OUI offense and a firearm violation, even if you are normally allowed to carry the gun. The penalties if convicted of this crime are serious – a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. And this is above and beyond the penalties for the underlying crime.
- Carrying a Loaded Firearm While Intoxicated or Under the Influence of Drugs: If you are carrying a gun while drunk or drugged, you may be looking at up to two-and-a-half years behind bars and a $5,000 fine.
If you are facing illegal possession charges, you might think there’s no hope. But a knowledgeable lawyer can be of immense benefit to the outcome of your case. For starters, he or she will analyze whether your rights were violated during the arrest. If they were, some of the evidence used against you might have to be thrown out. For example, if the gun was seized from your home or vehicle during an “unreasonable search,” that evidence cannot be used to prosecute you.
In other cases, you may have been unaware that you possessed the weapon at the time of the arrest. For example, if you are found in a vehicle with a gun in the glove compartment, but you were unaware of its presence, a knowledgeable attorney may be able to get the case dismissed. Continue reading