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DC Federal Gun and Weapons Case Process

When someone thinks that they are being investigated in a gun or other weapons case, they should be in contact with an attorney, especially before the first court date. These cases are prosecuted very aggressively and seriously. There is potentially mandatory jail time in certain situations in a gun or weapons case. It is important to get a jump start on investigating these cases.

An experienced weapons defense lawyer will be able to help prepare any potential defenses that can be employed in your DC federal gun and weapons charge.

Types of Possession

Depending on the type of charge in a possession case, the prosecutor must prove that the person actually or constructively possessed the weapon. Actual possession is having physical custody or control of the weapon. For example, a police officer searches a person and they find a gun in the person’s pocket or in the person’s hand. That is actual possession.

Constructive possession is a bit different. With constructive possession, a person has to have knowledge of and control over a weapon. For example, a police officer pulls a person over for a traffic violation and finds someone in the passenger seat of a car with a gun underneath the passenger’s seat. The gun is not physically on the person. If that person is charged, they are charged with constructively possessing that gun.

For constructive possession, the prosecutor must prove that the person charged had knowledge of the gun and had the ability to exercise dominion and control, or power, over that gun. There is much litigation over the factors that determine whether a person has the power to exercise dominion and control over a gun. A lawyer will be able to help employ the proper defense strategy to fight against an individual’s DC Federal gun and weapons case.

Severity of the Charge

Prosecutors take gun cases very seriously and pursue these cases very aggressively. People need to understand just how aggressively officers try to obtain a conviction in a gun case.

Prosecutors introduce evidence such as witness testimony from police officers and perhaps video evidence from traffic cameras or body cameras. There might also be photographs, DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, and things like that. An individual should contact a knowledgeable attorney to help employ effective defense strategies to reduce or dismiss any penalties associated with a DC Federal gun and weapons charge.

Potential Defenses

The defense strategy in these types of cases is fueled by the investigation because no case is the same. It depends on the facts of each individual case. Sometimes, it becomes apparent, after reviewing the evidence, that the police officers involved were not being truthful. The defense attorney can do a cross-examination to establish that and bring the credibility of the officers into question.

Constitutional Issues

There are a host of constitutional issues that may come up within a gun/weapon trial, particularly Fourth Amendment issues. Many times, gun cases revolve around police officers stopping a vehicle or stopping someone on the street and result in a search by police officers.

Whether or not the officer had a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to do the search that led to the gun being recovered is always a contested issue.  There are also constitutional issues that arise concerning searches of specific areas of a vehicle, such as the trunk.

Benefits of a Lawyer

It is incumbent upon a defense lawyer to prepare their client for trial. An attorney will prepare their client during the investigation phase, when interviewing witnesses, reviewing physical or scientific evidence, how to testify, and the defense strategies associated with a DC Federal gun and weapons charge. These types of things are involved in preparing for trial in a gun case.

Someone facing a federal weapons charge in DC should enlist the help of an attorney with experience in dealing with these types of cases. The lawyer should be up to date on the scientific current issues, case law, and different types of investigation related to these issues. Having an attorney who specializes in another area of law may not result in a successful outcome. The individual should enlist the help of a lawyer who has dedicated their practice to this type of law.

In a gun case, a police officer testifies about how the gun was located or recovered. The defense attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine that officer after the prosecutor has finished asking questions of the officer. The defense attorney can ask questions to show that the officer is either not credible or did not do a proper investigation, or to perhaps bring out facts that show there was no constructive possession of the gun.

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