How mandatory sentences can affect your gun charges

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

Massachusetts has adopted a very tough stance on the illegal possession of firearms. This is especially true for individuals who are convicted of possessing a firearm while in the commission of a felony. If you are currently facing this charge, it is important for you to know how minimum mandatory sentencing for gun charges can affect your case.

Here in Massachusetts, you will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison if you are convicted of possessing a firearm while also committing a felony. Additionally, you will receive a 10-year mandatory sentence if authorities determine that the firearm used in the crime meets the state's requirements as a machine gun. This could be potentially devastating to your life. This is especially true when you also consider that you may still be convicted on the underlying criminal act.

You should know that these minimum sentencing requirements can sometimes be unfair. For example, a judge cannot consider whether this was your first offense involving a gun. Fortunately, our legal system provides criminal defendants the opportunity to retain legal representation from attorneys with experience in defending against gun charges.

For example, your attorney may motion to suppress evidence if police acted unlawfully when making your arrest. Evidence obtained in such a manner would not be available for prosecutors to use against you in court.

Your attorney may also challenge your charges related to the possession of the firearm in question. A good example of this might be a case where you may not have known about the presence of a firearm when other individuals participated with you in some felony act. That's because the Massachusetts statute requires that an individual have actual possession of a firearm or have it under his or her control during the commission of a felony.

Of course, these are only two examples, yet they nevertheless demonstrate that you do not need to necessarily resign yourself to a plea bargain simply because you have been arrested. The circumstances of each case are different, but it still may be possible for your attorney to examine the prosecution's case against you and identify weak points. An improperly executed search warrant or other critical procedural errors may convince prosecutors to reduce the charges against you or to dismiss them altogether.

Source: The Massachusetts Legislature, "Section 18B-Use of firearms while committing a felony," accessed June 09, 2015