Anytime someone makes threats with a firearm in Massachusetts the district attorney will charge that person with everything under the sun. Take for instance the case of a Haverhill man who Monday afternoon got into an argument with a couple of people. As the dispute heightened the man, Eliezer Cruz brandished a firearm and fired a couple of shots into the air. He fled the scene only to be apprehended later that day by local police. Cruz has been charged with several gun and firearm related charges examined below.
Assault With a Dangerous Weapon
When most people think about an assault they think about someone getting hit. That would actually be a battery. An assault in Massachusetts is defined as an attempt to commit a battery or putting someone in fear that a battery will occur. Just about anything in Massachusetts can satisfy the requirement of being a dangerous weapon. So, here, Cruz’s act of pulling the gun on the people with whom he was having the argument, if true, will satisfy the elements of that offense. The fact that he fired the gun into the air has no bearing on this particular charge and I imagine the reason that he was not charged with more in this regard is due to the fact that seemingly independent witnesses agreed that he never shot at the victims.
Discharging a Firearm Within 500 Feet of a Building
Cruz has also been charged with a violation of G.L. c. 269 §12E making it a crime to shoot a gun within five hundred feet from a building. Most people charged with this offense don’t realize that the penalty for a conviction is relatively minor in the scheme of Massachusetts gun crimes. A conviction permits, but does not require, a fine of up to one hundred dollars and three months in jail. This pales in comparison to convictions for carrying a firearm cases which mandate eighteen months in jail.
The Gun Charge and the Ammunition Charge
Cruz’s biggest problem is probably going to be the gun charge. Massachusetts law requires anyone not properly licensed to serve at least eighteen months in jail if convicted of carrying a firearm with a license. It is more likely than not that Cruz did not have a license to carry. People often think that if the police don’t find the gun there can be no sustainable firearm case. This is not correct. One Massachusetts case has held that a defendant seen fleeing the scene where gunshots were heard, smelling like gunpowder and trying to hide from the police was enough evidence to affirm a conviction. Here, there is more that Cruz must address. He was seen shooting the weapon and expended shells were located at the scene. This evidence along will permit the district attorney to get this case to the jury.
As to the ammunition charge, a judge can continue this count without a finding. This is a very common result in cases involving possession of ammunition only. I doubt any judge will agree to this result in this case given the violent nature of the crime.
Massachusetts Gun Crime Defense
With nearly three decades of experience Attorney Stephen Neyman has successfully firearm possession and carrying cases. If you have been charged with any Massachusetts gun crime you need a lawyer. We can help. Call us at 617-263-6800 and talk to one of our lawyers. We will defend you.