At the Law Office of Criminal Attorney Kristen Bonavita we have an extensive knowledge of Firearm cases. Criminal Attorney Bonavita has handled thousands of Drug and Gun cases in the Massachusetts State District and Superior Courts. As a former prosecutor in the Narcotics Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Attorney Bonavita understands what it takes to prevail under this area of the law. It is always important to retain an experienced attorney early in your case as many of these charges carry with them mandatory minimum sentences that should be addressed at the onset of the case.
Firearm charges, under Massachusetts law, are determined by the type of gun, where you possess that gun and whether or not you have past convictions exposing you to enhanced Armed Career Criminal charges. Again, in this area of law, it is not always about what you possess but your actions in combination with that possession that will enhance the prosecutors case. Remember it is always best to stay silent and never speak without your criminal attorney present.
Admissibility of Evidence
The first question that should be asked in any gun related scenario is a legal one: “Did the police have the right to stop or detain the suspect?” Whether it is the execution of a search warrant, entry into the home, motor vehicle stop, or street bust, there are always legal prerequisites. If a Motion to Suppress is successful, it can result in inadmissibility of evidence and statements making it impossible for the case to proceed to the trial stage; successful motion practice can result in a dismissal of your case. Attorney Bonavita understands the complexities of this type of work. Her expertise in search and seizure law used in advocating for suppression means that Attorney Bonavita will recognize if the police did not follow the letter of the law. If you have a case that needs the immediate attention of an experienced criminal lawyer, please contact Attorney Bonavita at 978-376-6746.
Possession of Firearm
Chapter 269, section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws governs illegal firearm offenses. Under the statute, the elements that the prosecutor must prove to convict are based upon the type of gun or offense charged; these specifics are determined by the subsection under which a defendant is charged. While the elements to convict are different, so are the potential penalties. For instance, if you are caught illegally possessing of a firearm while outside your home (c. 269 s. 10(a)), conviction carries with it a minimum mandatory sentence of 18 months in jail and the potential of a state prison sentence. In contrast, recovery of an illegal firearm, if shown to be in your possession in your own home (c. 269, s. 10(h), carries no minimum sentence and is considered a misdemeanor offense with a maximum exposure of two years in the House of Correction.
Possession of Ammunition
Possession of Ammunition falls under the same chapter and section (c. 269 s. 10(h)) as possession of a firearm in your home. The definition of ammunition encompasses cartridges or cartridge cases, primers (igniter), bullets or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm, rifle or shotgun. The term ammunition shall also mean tear gas cartridges, chemical mace or any device or instrument which contains or emits a liquid, gas, powder or any other substance designed to incapacitate. While ammunition must be designed for use in a firearm, there is no requirement of current functionality, thus the prosecution need not show that the ammunition has the capability of being fired.
Possession of Large Capacity Feeding Device
A Large Capacity Feeding Device or weapon encompasses both a large capacity ammunition belt and magazine. A large capacity ammunition belt is one which holds more than ten rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously into a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun. A large capacity magazine, is a box, drum, or other container which holds more than ten rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously into a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun. Conviction under chapter 269, section 10(m) of possession of a large capacity feeding device carries with it a state prison sentence of two and a half to ten (2 1/2 – 10) years, with a minimum imprisonment of one year.
Possession of a Machine Gun
Conviction under chapter 269 s. 10(c) requires the prosecution to show possession of a machine gun or sawed off shotgun. According to the Massachusetts General Laws, a machine gun is defined as a weapon of any description, by whatever name known, loaded or unloaded, from which a number of shots or bullets may be rapidly or automatically discharged by one continuous activation of the trigger, including a submachine gun. A sawed off shotgun is any weapon made from a shotgun, if as modified, has one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length or an overall length of less than 26 inches. Conviction under this statute is extremely serious carrying with it a minimum mandatory sentence of 18 months, and a maximum exposure of a life sentence.
Possession of a Loaded Firearm
If you have been charged with possessing a firearm outside your home or possessing a machine gun or sawed off shotgun, you may also be facing charged under this subsection of the statute. Pursuant to chapter 269, section 10(n), an individual convicted of possessing a firearm, as referenced in the prior sentence, can also be convicted of carrying that weapon as loaded. If convicted, the offender faces up to 2 1/2 years in jail set to begin after the sentence imposed on the underlying case.
Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
The law states that whoever, while in the commission of or the attempted commission of an offense which may be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, has in his possession or under his control a firearm, rifle or shotgun shall, in addition to the penalty for such offense, faces a mandatory five year state prison sentence. If that firearm is found to be a large capacity weapon or machine gun, faces a mandatory ten year state prison sentence.
Armed Career Criminal
An individual will face enhanced charges as an “Armed Career Criminal” under chapter 269, section 10G of the Massachusetts General Laws if having been previously convicted of a violent crime or of a serious drug offense is convicted of possessing a firearm. This conviction, based upon the number of qualifying prior offenses faces between a mandatory sentence ranging from three (3) to fifteen (15) years in jail.
Firing Handguns and Self Defense
Massachusetts prohibits discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building that is being put to any use without the permission of the owner or legal occupant or unless it is in defense of the property and the life of an individual except in licensed shooting galleries or at target, test, trap, or skeet ranges where the permission of the owner or legal occupant has been granted.
Massachusetts has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation; therefore, it is important for every resident and visitor to know those laws and obey them or face stiff penalties. As in all states, Massachusetts elevates any crime that includes the use of a weapon and they generally carry felony criminal charges. Criminal Attorney Kristen Farrell Bonavita can help you present a defense that may lessen those charges, depending on the circumstances. Considering the life-long consequences to a criminal conviction, it is wise to consult Attorney Bonavita if you face any type of gun charges in the state of Massachusetts.
Contact the law office Kristen Farrell Bonavita Criminal Defense Attorney 978-376-6746 or email her with your case information.