Washington DC Gun Lawyer
Gun possession laws are some of the strictest in the country. Even for people who have permits to own and carry firearms in other states, often those permits are not legal once they cross into the District’s territory. Gun possession laws are complex and can be confusing even for gun owners who think they are carrying their firearms responsibly. This makes it easy for people to unwittingly break gun possession laws in Washington, DC. If you are facing a gun possession charge in the District of Columbia, a DC gun lawyer can help guide you through the complexities of the legal system. Here is some basic information you should know as you begin your defense, to learn more call and schedule a consultation with a defense attorney in DC today.
How Individuals Can Be Charged
There are several ways that someone may be charged with gun possession in the District of Columbia, however the most common ways are through a search warrant or when an officer comes into someone’s home for another reason.
For example, if the officer has been called about an allegation of domestic violence or some other offense and a gun is alleged to have been in plain sight inside the home, that can lead to a gun charge. Likewise, if a search warrant is executed for some other issue, such as a drug case, and the police search a home for drugs and a gun is found, then they are also likely to be charged.
Beyond these reasons, another way a gun charge may arise is during a traffic stop. A police officer may claim to have seen a gun in plain sight during a traffic stop. If a person is arrested at a traffic stop and the person who is driving is searched incident to arrest, sometimes a gun is discovered in that fashion as well. Additionally, transporting a firearm through DC can be legal unless they stop within the District and don’t have a DC registration.
Types of Gun Charges
The most common gun charges that require a DC gun attorney are carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of ammunition. Carrying a pistol without a license is a felony that carries the maximum of five years in prison. Possession of an unregistered firearm is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of a one year jail sentence. Possession of ammunition is also a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. However, in addition to these charges there are a number of other gun related offenses including:
- Carrying a concealed weapon into a federal building
- Attempting to carry a gun on a commercial airplane
- Modifying a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon
- Possessing explosives
- Possessing body armor – though there are some specific exceptions (18 U.S.C. Section 931)
Gun Possession Charges
Possession in a gun charge case is defined as it is in two ways. One is the actual possession of a gun. If someone is accused of having a gun on their person; they may have a gun in a holster on their hip, in their hand, or in their pocket. That is actual possession.
Constructive possession is another way that possession can be established regarding a gun. The government must prove that a person had the knowledge, the intent, and the power to exercise control over a firearm. For example, if a gun is found in a car you are driving and under the front passenger’s seat, but it is not your car, there is a strong argument that could be made that you did not know the gun was under the seat. It is not within your reach. You did not have the knowledge that the gun was there; therefore, you did not have the intent or the power to control the gun. If the car is yours and the gun is found under the driver’s seat and you are driving, a strong argument can be made that you have the knowledge and the intent to control that gun.
There are all sorts of different scenarios that can arise that may require the attention of a gun lawyer in DC.
Carrying a Pistol Without a License
Carrying a pistol without a license (CPWOL) is the most serious offense that may be charged, and is codified under Section 22-4503 of the DC Code. To be found guilty of this offense, the government must prove a person knowingly and intentionally carried a pistol openly or concealed about his/her person, that the pistol was operable or appeared to be operable, that the person was not licensed to carry the pistol, and that the pistol was carried in a place outside the person’s home, place of business, or land or property controlled by the person. A “pistol” is defined as a firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches in length. A “firearm” is defined as a weapon that will expel a bullet by means of an explosive. CPWOL carries a potential prison sentence of five years and/or a $5,000 fine.
Possession of An Unregistered Firearm
The elements of the offense of possession of an unregistered firearm in Washington, DC are: (1) the defendant knew that he or she possessed the object; (2) the defendant knew the object was a firearm; (3) the firearm was capable of operating as designed, and (4) the firearm was not registered to the defendant. The control of the accused over the weapon in question must exist at the same time as the intent to exercise that power, and the duration of the defendant’s control of the firearm is irrelevant. The possession of the firearm can either be actual or constructive. To establish constructive possession in Washington, DC, the state is required to prove that: (1) the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the firearm; and (2) the defendant intended to exercise control over the firearm.
DC also has laws against the possession of unregistered ammunition and concealed carry of a firearm (Section 22-4504). Due to the severity and the complexity of the laws surrounding gun possession in Washington, DC, if you are charged with a gun-related crime you should seek counsel from a gun attorney in DC with a proven record of success defending DC gun charges.
Defending Gun Charges in Washington, DC
In an attempt to either have your case dismissed or minimize the penalties you face as a result of being charged with a gun possession offense, a DC gun attorney will try to disprove the prosecutor’s theories. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed every aspect of the offense. If even one element of the carrying a pistol without a license charge is disproven by a defense attorney, the defendant may not be convicted.
If you have been charged with a gun possession offense in the District of Columbia, experienced Washington, DC gun lawyer David Benowitz can protect you against the severe penalties that accompany a conviction. David Benowitz has extensive experience defending people who have been accused of gun charges and he will fight to protect you in a court of law. Call his Washington, DC law office today for a free consultation of you case.
By: A Happy Client
Title: I Hired Dave Because I was Charged With a Serious Gun Charge
I hired Dave because i was charged with a serious Gun charge. DC is very strict with guns, while usually in Virginia having a shotgun in your vehicle is no big deal. In DC i was stopped and arrested, and facing some serious repercussions. Dave came highly recommended to me by one of my attorney friends, and he seemed to be the go-to guy for any gun charges in D.C. All questions and concerns I had were addressed by Dave immediately, and he always updated me about my case. I am an attorney myself, and needless to say I was really impressed with the professionalism Dave had. Dave was able to secure my freedom, make sure I didn't spend a day in jail for this, and reduce my charges. He put together a well structured case, and I owe him a debt of gratitude. David Benowitz is the the only gun lawyer you need to call. He will take care of you