Carrying a Firearm and Related Gun Crimes
Massachusetts gun laws are among the most severe in the country. Carrying a firearm carries a mandatory minimum 18-month jail sentence. Many other gun crimes carry mandatory minimum prison or jail sentences. The Massachusetts gun laws are detailed and complex. Attorney Chris Spring has extensive experience in litigating gun cases.Elements of Carrying a Firearm
In order to convict a defendant of carrying a firearm, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant possessed a firearm (gun) or had a firearm under his or her control in a car;
- The weapon met the legal definition of a “firearm;”
- The defendant knew he or she possessed the firearm; and
- The defendant was outside of his or her residence or place of business.
A firearm is defined as a pistol, revolver or other weapon, loaded or unloaded, from which a shot or bullet can be discharged and the length of whose barrel is less than sixteen inches.
Possession of a firearm is charged when the defendant illegally possessed a gun in his or her home or business. It is a less serious charge than carrying a firearm.
Possession of ammunition is a separate charge with less serious potential consequences.
Possession of a stun gun or chemical mace is also prohibited by Massachusetts law, although the potential penalties are not as severe as possession of a firearm.
Possession of specific types of firearms, such as a sawed-off shotgun, a gun with a defaced serial number, or a high-capacity firearm, carry enhanced penalties including minimum mandatory state prison sentences.Common Defenses and Defense Strategies
Gun cases can be defended in a variety of ways.
- Licensing - It is not automatically illegal to carry or possess a gun in Massachusetts. You can obtain an FID (firearm identification) card or an LTC (license to carry) that will allow you to possess or carry a gun. If you previously had a license to possess or carry a gun and the license expired, under some circumstances the criminal charge will become a civil violation. The gun laws are very complicated and you need someone with extensive experience in litigating these types of issues. Attorney Spring has the necessary experience.
- Firearms in Cars - It is insufficient for the Commonwealth to prove simply that the defendant was in the same car as a gun. The Commonwealth must prove that the defendant knew the gun was present and the defendant had the power to exercise control over the gun. Attorney Spring has extensive experience filing pretrial motions to dismiss gun charges where the police report or the grand jury minutes do not establish a credible link between his clients and guns found in cars.
- Suppression Issues - Because most guns are recovered without a warrant either from the defendant’s person or from a car, a motion to suppress the gun will often be filed prior to trial. Attorney Spring has litigated hundreds of motions to suppress in his career.
Given the serious consequences that result from a conviction for gun crimes, it is essential that you have an attorney who is experienced in trying these types of cases. Attorney Spring prosecuted all types of gun cases earlier in his career when he was serving as an assistant district attorney. Since founding Spring & Spring, he has successfully defended clients who have been charged with every type of gun offense in Massachusetts.