The Brockton Enterprise reported today that authorities have charged an unidentified man with possession of a shotgun. The man threatened suicide and the police were called to the scene. The police ultimately entered the man’s home and found firearms and ammunition. It was then determined that the man did not have an FID card. This article examines the consequences of unlawful firearm possession in Massachusetts.
Gun Possession and Mandatory Sentences
The Massachusetts statute addressing gun possession is Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269 Section 10. Possibly applicable to this case is subsection (a) which states that anyone who knowingly possession a firearm or shotgun and is convicted for that crime must serve eighteen months in jail. There is another aspect of this statute that permits sentences that don’t include incarceration after a conviction. Subsection (h) allows a judge to sentence someone to probation or even impose a continuance without a finding. The decision of how to charge a defendant rests with the district attorney.
Defenses to Firearm Cases Not Involving Trial
I have represented well over one hundred people charged with some sort of gun crime in Massachusetts. Most of the people charged with this crime are initially charged under subsection (a), the mandatory jail time section of the statute. I emphasize the word “initially” for a reason. Massachusetts district attorneys often charge defendants with the most severe crime they think they can prove. They do this for leverage. In other words, in the context of gun cases they might not want the defendant to go to jail but they could want to secure a conviction. The best way to do this is to charge under subsection (a). Then, if the defendant will agree to plead guilty they will reduce the charge to subsection (h). The district attorney thereby secures a conviction and the defendant avoids jail. Other defenses naturally motions to dismiss and motions to suppress where appropriate.
Instances Where G.L. c. 269 §10(h) Is Charged
There are times when the prosecutor will charge the non-mandatory portion of this statute. This is usually when the gun is not being carried by the defendant, where the defendant does not have a criminal record and where the circumstances surrounding the case indicate that jail time would be unjust. This case seems to be one of those instances. The man here was suicidal. Finding the guns was incidental to diffusing a volatile situation pertaining to the man’s mental health. The guns were in his home, not being carried around in public. This case cries out for mental health treatment and a forfeiture of the guns, not jail time.
Gun Defense Lawyer
For nearly thirty years our office has been defending gun cases in Massachusetts. We can be contacted 24/7 at 617-263-6800. Protecting people’s rights, winning cases and keeping our clients out of jail is what we do best. Call us if you are in trouble. We will defend you tirelessly regardless of the allegations.