Gun crimes in Essex County are the unlawful possession of firearms outside of the defendant’s place of residence or business and without a valid license to carry firearms. The crime is committed even where the firearm is not loaded. Possession of a firearm to commit a crime may be either actual or constructive. It is actual when the defendant has the gun on their person and constructive if it is in the defendant’s car. Both forms of possession may open the defendant to a criminal charge.
The second amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right to possess a firearm. The Supreme Court has recognized this right in District of Columbia v. Heller. However, states still regulate the right to possess firearms. Massachusetts has several laws that restrict the ownership and use of weapons in the state, and these laws apply to Essex County. Chapter 269, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Law criminalizes carrying without a license.
The prosecution must prove these four elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction
Massachusetts regulates how firearms should be stored and used. A person may be guilty of any of a variety of offenses for carrying or storing a firearm. An individual involved in certain felonies would lose the right to carry a weapon and may face a criminal charge if found with a weapon in Essex County. Also, every firearm should have safety devices, owners must go through safety programs and be licensed, and firearms should be stored in locked and secure containers. A person who sells firearms may also be arrested and prosecuted if they break the law while selling firearms. Sellers must be licensed, must maintain records, and must check for licenses of buyers when they sell firearms.
There are several charges for gun crimes in Essex County with varying penalties. A defendant’s potential punishment is dependent on their charge.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) maintains records of gun crimes committed in Essex County. 206 gun crimes were recorded in Essex County in 2020. This included 10 homicide cases, 194 aggravated assault cases, and two sexual assault cases. This was an increase from the number of gun crimes recorded in Essex County in 2019. In 2019, the gun crimes included four homicide cases, 135 aggravated assault cases, and one sexual assault case.
Only persons with a license can possess a gun in Essex County. Massachusetts laws regulate gun ownership in Essex County. The license is issued by the Essex Police Department. There are two types of licenses that may be obtained. There is the License To Carry. The license authorizes buying, possessing, transporting, and carrying handguns, shotguns, and ammunition. The firearm should be concealed while carrying, whether loaded or unloaded. The second license is the Firearms Identification Card. The card permits buying, possessing, and transporting non-large capacity rifles, shotguns, and ammunition in Essex County.
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140 Section 131 limits the persons who may obtain a license to carry a firearm. A person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a License To Carry. The license costs $100 to obtain and is valid for six years. It may be renewed. The Firearms Identification Card is available to persons 15 years old or older. However, persons younger than 18 years old need to obtain parental permission to obtain the license. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140 Section 129B provides for the Firearms Identification Card. The Card costs $25 for individuals below 18 years old and $100 for persons 18 years old or older and is valid for six years. It is renewable and gives the holder the right to possess and keep firearms in their place of residence or business.
Certain individuals are not eligible to obtain the License To Carry or the Firearms Identification Card regardless of their age, including
If a person’s gun is used to commit a crime in Essex County, the result would depend on the circumstances. Gun owners are to store their guns in locked and secure containers. Furthermore, gun owners and gun dealers are to report the loss or theft of any firearm. If the gun owner abides by the obligation, they are not liable for any crime involving their stolen gun. However, failure to report a stolen gun is a crime. It may lead to the revocation of a License To Carry, Firearms Identification Card, or both. It is also punishable by a fine between $500 and $1,000 for a first offense. It is punishable by a fine between $2,500 and $7,500 upon a second offense. Subsequent offenses are punishable by a fine between $7,500 and $10,000, imprisonment for between one year and five years, or both a fine and imprisonment.
Police officers in Essex County may use their guns to perform their duties, including using their guns to stop crimes in Essex County. However, the type of crime being committed and the circumstances also determine whether a gun should be used. A gun can only be used to stop a felony. It cannot be used to stop a misdemeanor. Even where a felony is being committed, the force used must be reasonable. The officer should have no other means to stop the commission of the crime.
A private person may also use their gun to stop the commission of a crime where it would qualify as self-defense, defense of property, or the defense of another. The force used should not be excessive, and the use of deadly force in such an instance should be the last resort; otherwise, the individual may be prosecuted.
A gun crime conviction involving an immigrant in Essex County may lead to deportation or removal. Therefore, the consequences can be very severe. The Court is required to inform a defendant making a guilty plea, a plea of nolo contendere, or an admission to sufficient facts of the potential consequences of a conviction. This law was recognized in Commonwealth v. Gordon. One of the grounds for deportation from the United States is being convicted for a firearm offense.
A weapons and firearms violation attorney is important when facing a firearm charge in Essex County. The attorney has an in-depth knowledge of Massachusetts firearms laws and substantial experience with cases concerning the laws. The defendant may choose to represent themselves in a firearm charge. However, a conviction for a firearm crime can have severe consequences. It may lead to a loss of a License To Carry or Firearm Identification Card, fines, and imprisonment. Therefore, it is important to consult with a trained professional to avoid extreme consequences.
A weapons and firearms lawyer in Essex County will help the defendant handle the necessary paperwork and inform the accused of the process involved. Firearms crimes may be prosecuted either at the Gloucester District Court or the Essex County Superior Court. Experienced attorneys are more familiar with the rules and procedures of the courts. The lawyer would also handle discussions with the prosecution and prepare defenses for the defendant.
The defendant has a right to defend the charge, and their attorney may raise defenses that may help the defendant escape liability for a gun charge either partially or entirely. The specific defense raised in court will be based on the peculiarities of each case.
A convicted person might face increased penalties if they possessed a firearm during the commission of a crime. This is usually the case for felonies such as drug crimes. However, the defendant may avoid additional penalties by claiming