Building a Defense For DC Gun Charges

Due to the severity of gun charges in Washington, DC and the fact that many charges involving guns can result in serious penalties, it is important anyone charged with a gun crime consult with a DC gun lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can investigate the specific facts and circumstances of the case and begin building a defense. To learn more or begin building your defense, call and schedule a consultation today.

What Needs to be Proven

One of the most common kinds of gun charges is carrying a pistol outside a person’s home or business without a valid license. In order to prove this crime, prosecutors must provide evidence showing beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was carrying a pistol and did not have a license in the district to carry that pistol outside of his home or business, and was not carrying that pistol by accident or by mistake. There is another gun charge called possession of an unregistered firearm. This charge can be applied for possession of any firearm either inside or outside of a person’s home or business. However, prosecutors must again prove that possession of the firearm was not by accident or mistake.

Types of Defenses

There are a variety of different defenses that may be available depending on the specific facts of the case. Some of the most common defenses in gun cases include whether the police violated any of the individual’s constitutional rights when they conducted a search of the person, or whether they interrogated them without first informing them of their right to decline to answer questions.

The defense attorney can also use any of these possible challenges or any other favorable evidence to resolve the case in a favorable way short of going to trial. That could mean minimizing the jail time that a person is exposed to, reducing charges or negotiating for the dismissal of some charges entirely. That can also mean exploring the possibility of challenging the case up to a trial to secure an acquittal. Having an experienced lawyer can make a very serious charge manageable and can mean the most favorable possible resolution to the person’s case.

Second Amendment Defenses

The Second Amendment is a very broad amendment the courts have found establishes a personal right to own and possess firearms. The courts have also permitted the states and the District of Columbia to establish reasonable gun regulations that limit the circumstances in which a person is legally allowed to own and possess a firearm.

As an example, even though the Supreme Court and the DC courts found that people in the District of Columbia have a right to own and possess firearms, DC laws still require that to possess a firearm in the District, a person must register that gun with the Metropolitan Police Department even if the person doesn’t live in the District and has their guns registered in their home state. This comes up most frequently when people have firearms legally purchased and licensed in another state and comes to Washington DC for vacation or business travel. The Second Amendment does not grant a universal right to every person to be able to carry a firearm, or possess or own a firearm in every circumstance.

Diversion Agreements in Gun Cases

In general, diversion agreements are negotiated resolutions between defendants and prosecutors that allow a person to comply with certain requirements in exchange for having their charges dismissed. Diversion agreements are frequently offered in certain lower level misdemeanors such as minor drug possession, minor assaults, shoplifting, and other lower level cases. Gun offenses, because of the severity of the associated penalties, are typically not eligible for diversion agreements. That being said, there are certain circumstances in which an experienced defense lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors to determine whether a diversion agreement may be a possibility.

In some circumstances, a person could be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm when they may not even have been fully aware they had the firearm in their possession. This happens in situations where a person is traveling to DC from another state and brings the firearm with them. They may unknowingly have a weapon that is not registered in the District. In certain circumstances, a defense lawyer can use mitigating evidence such as a valid firearms license in another state to explore with the prosecutors the possibility of a diversion agreement that could result in the complete dismissal of all charges.