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Potential Defenses for Gun Charges in DC

If you have been charged with unlawful possession or transportation of a firearm, an experienced gun lawyer can help create your defense. A DC gun lawyer can review the common defense strategies in DC gun cases and evaluate what argument best fits with the facts of your case. To get more or begin protecting your rights consult with an experienced defense attorney today.

Knowledge and Intention

The most common defense strategies in DC gun cases relate to the issues of knowledge and possession. Under the statute, the person must knowingly possess a firearm to be charged with a firearms offense. For example, there are many people who lawfully own a firearm in Maryland and Virginia. On occasion, they might go into the District of Columbia for business or some personal matter. If that individual does not realize they left a firearm in the trunk of their car, there is a potential for the defense that the person did not knowingly possess that firearm in the District of Columbia.

At the time the person put the firearm in the trunk they possessed it, they intended to possess it. If they were outside of the District of Columbia and forgot about it before they came into the District of Columbia, there is a legitimate defense that they did not knowingly possess the firearm within the District of Columbia. That defense has been successfully used in many cases based on that argument.

Other Common Defenses

Common defense strategies in DC gun cases could consist of an individual who may not know there is a firearm located in a home. For example, several roommates live together in a home or apartment and law enforcement discovers a firearm in that home or apartment. One of the roommates present may have no idea that there is a firearm.

They should be able to successfully defend themselves from an allegation that they knowingly possessed the firearm. That argument becomes more problematic when a firearm is found directly on a person, in their pocket, their holster, or their jacket because it is much more difficult to successfully argue they did not know that there was a firearm on their person. It is not theoretically impossible, but obviously much more difficult.

If the facts warrant, the defense might include challenging whether the item recovered was actually a firearm. There are cases where the firearm was not recovered but there is other evidence indicating that the person possessed a firearm. In those cases, the defense attorney can challenge the fact that no firearm was recovered. The government did not establish there was a firearm. The facts of every particular case could lend themselves to certain defenses but the issue of knowing possession is absolutely critical in every gun charge.

Second Amendment Defense

The Second Amendment is not one of the common defense strategies in DC gun cases when the gun charges are accurately brought under the statutes of the District of Columbia. As it presently stands in the District of Columbia, a person cannot possess a firearm unless they have it registered.

If an individual has a firearm in Virginia and brings it into the District of Columbia without having it registered, unless their case falls under the very rigid and structured interstate transportation of firearms exception, they can be charged.

The Second Amendment says that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That means the government will not place restrictions on the right to possess and carry firearms. However, over the centuries that right has been limited. The courts found that the government can place reasonable restrictions on an individual’s rights to possess and/or carry firearms.

Effectivity of the Second Amendment

Out of many common defense strategies in DC gun cases, using the Second Amendment is not an effective defense. The reason for this is while an individual does have the right to possess a firearm in the District of Columbia, in order to exercise that right, they must first register it. If a person has not done so, they can and will be prosecuted for unlawful possession of a firearm.

To use the Second Amendment as a defense to a firearms charge in a criminal case, one would have to challenge the statute being prosecuted as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. That means the restriction placed by the government on the possession or carrying of firearms is not reasonable but is constitutional.

The specific procedures and policies by which a person can seek to obtain a permit to carry a firearm in the District of Columbia are still being challenged. In DC gun cases where the statute was previously challenged and found to be constitutional by the courts, the Second Amendment is not an avenue of defense for someone in a criminal firearms case.

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