The penalties for gun crimes in the District of Columbia can be quite heavy which is why the investigation of gun cases can be so important. Evidence in DC gun investigations is crucial for potentially exonerating defendants, if not at least lessening the severity of charges that someone may face.
As a result, the process of gathering evidence in DC gun cases is vital to constructing a case, both for and against the defendant. Incorrectly collected evidence can also impact the direction and strength of a case. A skilled attorney can help by assessing and interpreting evidence in order to bolster your case and protect your rights.
The process of gathering evidence in DC gun cases begins with police documenting all of the details about where the gun was located, who was nearby, and what was nearby. They want to make sure they can tie the gun to the person they believe had possession of the gun.
They look for anything related to the gun such as ammunition, extra magazines, a gun case, and documentation about the gun. They get all the evidence available that relates to the gun and, if possible, relates to a specific person. The police take fingerprints of the gun and the magazine. On occasion the police fingerprint the actual shells located in the magazine. Sometimes they swab a person for DNA. By swabbing the gun, the magazine, and the cartridges the police may be able to establish who possessed the firearm. In addition to this evidence, there are photographs showing exactly where the gun was located and all the details about the gun.
Whenever a gun is found during a criminal investigation, crime scene officers and techs are called in to process the scene. They have evidence bags, cameras, diagram equipment, and other supplies to make sure the scene is completely documented and preserved correctly. Crime scene technicians are instrumental in the process of gathering evidence in DC gun cases. The average officer in a squad car or walking the streets most likely does not have the necessary equipment so they call in the crime scene technicians to come and document everything to ensure that all evidence is properly documented and preserved.
An experienced lawyer looks for witnesses to the alleged activity. The defense determines who might be harmful to their client’s case and most importantly, who can be helpful and looks for video evidence. Washington DC is a large American city and is the seat of the federal government with countless video cameras located throughout the city.
The police also have cameras. In addition, there are cameras controlled by the Department of Transportation throughout the city. An experienced lawyer always looks for camera footage because it is the best evidence. The police can make assumptions or may exaggerate in their reports, but cameras do not lie.
The lawyer finds out if there is anything that ties the person charged with the crime to the gun. When the person is charged with constructive possession and is found sitting in a car, the lawyer identifies who owns the car and decides if the owner has ties to the gun or has a criminal record. The lawyer identifies the details of how their client ended up near the gun and why the police are trying to link the gun to the client as opposed to another passenger or someone else who was nearby.
The lawyer looks for some fact that can create doubt as to whether the client actually had possession of the gun. They will examine the possibility of the gun belonging to someone else, and whether their client even owned any guns registered in any jurisdiction. They will also look at the defendant’s alibi to see if there is any chance that they were near the gun or the scene of the crime. There are different forms of evidence depending on the facts of the case that a lawyer can focus on to consider every possible scenario and build the best defense possible.
There can be room for interpretation depending on the specific facts of a case. For example, it is very common in a gun case that the gun is not discovered on the person of the defendant; it is not in their pocket; it is not in their coat. It is found on the floorboard of a car or on the ground. The government must establish that the person accused of a gun crime possessed the gun. The government must prove that to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt by using evidence and witness testimony. They can argue every possible connection between the person accused and the gun.
The evidence in those types of cases leaves room for interpretation as to what the evidence shows. The prosecution might argue that the gun located in this specific location or pointed in that specific direction seems to indicate that perhaps the defendant tossed it there.
The defense tries to prove that the prosecution’s version of events is hypothetical. There were other people located nearby and specifically, the direction the gun faced makes more sense if it was Individual X as opposed to the defendant. Or it was dropped from that location, not this location. The facts of a specific case can be argued because most gun cases involve constructive possession as opposed to a person possessing the gun physically on their body.
Anytime someone believes they are being investigated by the police, they should contact an attorney. The police sometimes get the facts wrong. It is much better to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney from the beginning to make sure the person’s rights are being protected. The attorney can advise the person about the right things to do and the things to avoid to prevent potential criminal charges and not harm the defense against the criminal charges.
The consequences for someone making a mistake during the process of gathering evidence in DC gun cases can be grave. There are many instances of a person being prosecuted for a crime when they did not say anything to the police and there was not enough evidence for an arrest let alone a prosecution. It is critical that a person contacts and consults with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as they are aware that there may be an investigation against them. Anyone engaged in criminal activity should stop and consult with an attorney to make sure that they can face their crime and do so.
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