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Guns and Weapons Defense
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees to each citizen the right to bear arms. This constitutional amendment has been a cornerstone of American rights, but has also become a source of much controversy and fierce partisan debates in recent years. Though the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, each state reserves the right to regulate the use and ownership of such weapons. Massachusetts has several laws in place restricting the carrying and use of firearms in the state. Given the dangers an improperly possessed or used firearm can wrought, law enforcement officers and prosecutors take gun violations very seriously and will punish them to the full extent of the law.
Below is a list of the most common Massachusetts criminal weapon charges:Illegal Carrying of Weapons
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10 makes it illegal to knowingly possess a loaded or unloaded firearm if:
- You are not present in your own residence or place of business
- You do not have the required firearm license
- You possess an illegal weapon, such as a sawed off shotgun or machine gun
The law also makes it illegal to carry dangerous weapons, such as daggers, ballistic knives, blowguns, stilettos, klackers, and kung fu sticks.
If you are found in possession of an unlicensed weapon, carry your weapon outside of your home or place of business without the license to do so, or possess a dangerous weapon, you will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 18 months imprisonment. If you are found in possession of a machine gun or sawed off shotgun, you could be sentenced to life imprisonment. These punishments are some of the harshest in the nation, and make it imperative for you to retain a knowledgeable firearm crimes defense attorney as your very liberty depends upon it.Possession of an Unlicensed Weapon at Home or Work
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10(h)(1) makes it illegal to possess a firearm, rifle, or shotgun without a license or permit—even if you possess it merely in your home or place of business. You face a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment for violation of this provision.Carrying a Shotgun or Rifle on a Public Way
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 12 D makes it illegal to carry a shotgun or rifle on a public way. A public way is defined as a street, sidewalk, or other public ground. If the weapon is loaded, you face up to 2 years imprisonment in addition to hefty fines. If the weapon, however, is considered a “large capacity” one, you could face up to 10 years imprisonment and a minimum 1 year sentence.Possession of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony
If you have been charged with a felony and possessed a firearm during its commission, you can be charged with an additional criminal charge. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 18B sets forth the crime of possessing a firearm while committing a felony. A conviction for possession of a firearm while committing a felony will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. If the weapon was a “large capacity” one, the minimum sentence you can receive is 10 years imprisonment. These sentences are in addition to whatever sentence you receive on the underlying felony.Carrying a Loaded Firearm While Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10H makes it illegal to carry on your person or possess in your vehicle a loaded firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not a defense that you have a permit to carry the weapon. You could face 2 ½ years imprisonment along with a $5,000 fine for violating this provision.Illegal Discharging of Weapons
Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 12F, it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 500 ft. of a dwelling without the owner’s permission. You could face 3 months imprisonment for a conviction of illegal discharge of weapons and fines.Firearms Crimes and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
As you can see from the offenses detailed above, Massachusetts firearms crimes often have mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimum sentences are just that—the absolute minimum sentence that a judge can lawfully mandate a defendant serves. Mandatory minimum sentences are widely criticized because they can result in great injustice. A first time offender who made one mistake and carried an unlicensed firearm, for example, will be sentenced to a minimum of 18 months imprisonment, whether the judge feels that sentence is justified or not. Critics of mandatory sentences have long called for reform and, given even the federal government’s recent change in policy concerning mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, it seems possible change might be coming to Massachusetts gun laws. For now, however, defendants are struck facing harsh mandatory minimum sentences. This makes it absolutely critical to retain the assistance of an experienced gun crimes defense attorney as soon as possible.
A skilled weapons defense attorney will analyze all the facts of your case and immediately began mounting a defense. Some defenses to weapons charges include:
Motions to suppress evidence— a knowledgeable defense attorney will determine whether you might have a viable motion to suppress if the firearm was seized as a result of an unlawful search. Often, the weapon was seized from your home or automobile, both places stringently protected by the Fourth Amendment. If the weapon was seized as a result of an unreasonable search, it cannot be used against you.
Lack of possession— most firearms offenses require that you be in possession of the weapon or firearm. The term “possession” is a complicated one in the legal field. Possession implies both control and power over a weapon. A skilled defense attorney can argue that you were not in fact in possession of the firearm if, say, you were merely a passenger in the vehicle and lacked control over the weapon.
Knowledge of the weapon--- the prosecution must prove you knowingly possessed the weapon. This knowledge component is not always easily met, particularly in the situation of a passenger in a vehicle found to have a weapon inside. Absent your knowledge of the weapon’s presence, along with your possession of it, you cannot be convicted of illegal carrying of a weapon. An experienced weapons charge defense attorney can examine the facts of your case and see if this defense is a viable option.Aggressive Defense Against Firearm, Guns, and Weapons Charges
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has over 20 years experience defending individuals against a vast array of firearm, gun, and weapon charges. When you are facing a gun or weapons charge, your entire future is at stake. These crimes carry harsh penalties and often mandatory jail time. Do not take the chance with an inexperienced defense attorney or someone that merely quotes you the lowest fee. You need the best representation to provide you with the best chance at avoiding a conviction. Stephen Neyman provides unprecedented representation against weapons charges. Our team of skilled Massachusetts gun crime defense attorneys will expertly defend your case from the investigative stages all the way to trial, if that point is reached. Call us today at (617) 263-6800 for a free phone consultation.
Si usted habla espanol contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.