Defense of Weapons Charges
Illegal Possession of Firearms
Being charged with illegal possession of a firearm in Massachusetts is no small matter. Under G.L. c. 269, §10, a conviction for possessing an illegal firearm requires a judge to impose a mandatory 18-month sentence to the House of Correction. A defendant sentenced to this 18-month minimum mandatory sentence is not eligible for probation, work release, furlough, or “good time” credit. For the otherwise law-abiding individual unaware of the severity of Massachusetts gun laws, and simply keeping a handgun on his person for self-protection only, the law is as draconian as it is overbroad in its application.
Those individuals found in unlawful possession of a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun faces a sentence of up to life in prison. No doubt, for individuals caught with an illegal firearm, a conviction will be a life-altering event. Selecting a skilled Cambridge criminal lawyer who has successfully defended those accused of possession of illegal firearms is your first and most important decision in meeting this challenge.
Illegal Possession of Knives, Brass Knuckles, Nunchucks
Under G.L. c. 269, §10 (b), those charged with unlawful possession of a stiletto, dagger, locking blade, ballistic knife, dirk knife, double-edged knife, switch blade, sling shot, blow gun, blackjack, brass or metallic knuckles, nunchaku (nunchucks), or billy club, if convicted, may be sentenced to “imprisonment for not less than two and one-half years nor more than five years in state prison, or for not less than six months nor more than two and one-half years in a jail or house of correction. . . .”
Winning Illegal Weapons Possession Cases
There are defenses available to those accused of illegal weapons possession. If the police seized the weapon following an unconstitutional search, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will file a motion to suppress the weapon. A hearing on a motion to suppress is, essentially, a mini-trial to determine the lawfulness of the search. Because the police often attempt to salvage the fruits of an unconstitutional search through obfuscation and outright lying, the cross-examination skills of the defense lawyer can prove critical to the outcome of this contest. Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney has authored “Relentless Criminal Cross-Examination,” the best-selling book on cross-examination. He is regarded by criminal defense lawyers nationwide as a talented, determined and creative cross-examiner.
Should a motion to suppress be either unsuccessful or unavailable, a person charged with illegal possession of a weapon is entitled to a jury trial. At such a trial, the prosecution must prove more than that the weapon was discovered within the vicinity of the accused or even within his home or car – or even that he was aware of the presence of the weapon. Instead, the prosecution must prove possession. “Possession implies ‘control and power,’ . . . exclusive or joint, . . . or, in the case of ‘constructive possession,’ knowledge coupled with the ability and intention to exercise dominion and control.” Commonwealth vs. Garcia, 409 Mass. at 686 (quoting, Commonwealth vs. Deagle, 10 Mass. App. Ct. 563, 567 (1980)). In other words, the prosecution must prove more than that the accused was aware of the presence of or within the vicinity of the weapon; the District Attorney’s Office must demonstrate that he had the authority to access it and deny others access to it – that he essentially owned it. Often times, a prosecutor and the police cannot meet such a heavy burden.
Kevin J. Mahoney has successfully represented dozens of individuals charged with illegal possession of a weapon. In fact, not one of Mahoney’s clients have ever pled guilty to or been convicted of a weapons offense. Give our firm a call at (617) 492-0055 or use our online contact form to arrange a free in-office consultation with Attorney Mahoney.
Commonwealth vs. J.R., Fitchburg District Court
Possession of an Incendiary Device – Dismissed
Disturbing the Peace – Not guilty
Police, responding to Defendant’s home on complaint of loud explosions coming from the backyard, heard a huge explosion and saw a large fireball rise from behind the single story. They claimed they saw the Defendant holding some type of device in his hands. Running to the backyard, the police discovered a crater with a burn mark around its rim.
Commonwealth vs. H.T., Westboro District Court
Possession of a Loaded Firearm While Intoxicated — Not Guilty
The Defendant was riding in the passenger seat of his car on Rt. 9 when he removed a handgun from a bag and held it to his head. Unable to talk the Defendant out of killing himself, the driver fled the car. Responding police shut down Rt 9 and surrounded the Defendant’s car. The police ordered him to throw his weapon from the car, and subsequently took him into custody. He had bloodshot eyes, an odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred his words, and was unsteady on his feet.
*Please be aware that this list includes only those cases that went to trial. In many instances, by persuading the District Attorney’s Office that the individual is a decent and non-violent person, Attorney Mahoney has obtained outright dismissal of the weapons charges.