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Washington DC Gun Lawyer

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Possession of a firearm is a right granted by the US Constitution. This right, however, comes with certain restrictions and responsibilities. Violation of DC gun laws can lead to a significant fine, lengthy prison sentence, and the revocation of one’s right to possess firearms. If you are charged with a gun possession offense or other violation of local gun laws, a DC gun lawyer is your best option for building the strongest possible defense and protecting your rights.

Gun Laws

If someone is traveling through DC with a firearm, it is in their interest to understand the laws about transporting firearms through the area. Even if they are legally registered in their home state, they may still face criminal charges for not transporting the firearm in accordance with DC law.

Because of recent rulings by the Supreme Court DC, DC has recently enacted concealed carry licensing laws, although the granting of these permits is extremely limited for the time being. For the most part, the only way someone who is not a licensed gun seller or in law enforcement can be lawfully in possession of a firearm in DC is to have the firearm registered and kept in their home or in their place of business.The current status of concealed carry permits in DC, is constantly in flux, so a person who wishes to possess or bring a gun into the District should be aware of the most up-to-date information available to avoid being charged with potentially serious crimes.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

It is required that every firearm be registered. Guns must also be properly licensed, and the only ammunition that a person may purchase must match the caliber or gauge of the registered weapon. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns may not be sold to a minor under the age of 18, and they may only be bought or sold through a licensed dealer. Certain firearms and gun accessories, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and silencers, are prohibited under any and all circumstances. Possession of these guns and items can warrant a criminal charge of carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. An individual may be found guilty if:

• They have been convicted of a felony (or any crime punishable by more than a year in prison)
• They have been convicted of selling guns without the proper license
• They are a fugitive from justice
• They are an addict and addicted to a controlled substance (list here)
• They are subject to a court order that requires them to surrender any firearms
• They have been convicted of a domestic violence offense (often referred to as intrafamily offense) within the past five years

There are a few important things to note here. For this law, being a fugitive from justice is generally defined as someone who has fled or evaded prosecution or to avoid testifying in a case, or a person who managed to escape from police custody, jail, or prison.

The penalties for this charge vary widely, and depend in large part on whether the individual has any prior record of violent offenses. If a person is found guilty of one of the above-listed restrictions, but they do have a felony prior conviction on their record, they will face up to 10 years in prison. There is a mandatory minimum of one year in prison that must be served making it important that a gun attorney in DC is contacted.

Gun Free Zones

DC has a number of areas, or zones, that have been declared Gun Free Zones. Those found guilty of possession of a firearm within these zones, or of committing a crime with the use of a gun in these areas, face double the penalties. That means that if convicted, a person could face twice the maximum prison time and/or twice the maximum amount of the fine. As an example, someone who is found guilty of illegally carrying a firearm in DC and who has been convicted of a felony, any felony, in the past would be facing up to 20 years in prison instead of 10 years and up to $20,000 in fines instead of $10,000.

Areas that fall within the DC Gun Free Zone areas are marked by large, easy-to-read signs and include locations such as:

• Schools
• Colleges/Universities
• Day Care Centers
• Public Swimming Pools
• Parks
• Playgrounds
• Youth Centers
• Public Libraries
• Public Housing

Certain events that are sponsored by specific federal and DC government agencies are also included in these zones.

Court Treatment

Gun offenses in DC are some of the most aggressively investigated, enforced, and prosecuted offenses in the city. Law enforcement officers routinely execute search warrants on people’s houses that they suspect contain illegal weapons. It is not uncommon for the Metropolitan Police Department to send out gun recovery squads to actively enforce traffic regulations in the hope that those traffic infractions result in the discovery and seizure of illegal weapons.

For that reason, even minor traffic infractions can result in police officers searching someone’s vehicle to find illegal guns. That can result in minor traffic stops turning into arrest and felony charges. Law enforcement officers frequently try to get people to consent to a search of their vehicle or their home to be able to recover guns. Prosecutors use that evidence to aggressively seek jail time, sometimes serious prison time, for people found to be in possession of guns illegally.

People who do not have criminal records and are law abiding gun owners in other states can be and are still prosecuted for misdemeanor gun possession cases. They can even be prosecuted for gun felonies when they bring those lawfully obtained and licensed guns from other states into DC. It is not uncommon for people visiting DC who are not aware of DC gun laws to be pulled over by a law enforcement officer, have their car searched, and be arrested for crimes they did not realize they were committing. Prosecutors in DC, commonly charge those individuals with crimes. They sometimes even charge them with high-level felony offenses which can result in prison time or felony convictions on their record. People need to be aware of how aggressively DC prosecutors pursue people who are not aware of DC gun laws and may not know they are committing a crime by bringing their gun into DC.

Contacting an Attorney

People face different kinds of penalties depending on their situation and the type of gun offenses they are charged with. When someone faces a gun charge that could potentially land them in prison for months or even years, they should have an aggressive DC gun lawyer who understands DC laws and understands the constitutional requirements surrounding lawful search of vehicles and homes as well as the constitutional requirements around interrogations. An experienced lawyer can make the difference between someone going to prison and staying out prison or between being in prison for years as opposed to going to prison for months.

An understating of how the laws are enforced can make an enormous difference in a person’s case. For those individuals who do not think they are committing crimes or are any danger to the community and find themselves getting arrested and charged with very serious offenses, having a gun defense lawyer in DC is crucial. An experienced lawyer knows the prosecutor’s offices and the way these cases can be effectively negotiated. It is important to have a lawyer who understands these cases and the way they are prosecuted to minimize the chances their client unfairly takes a criminal conviction on their record when they may have not even realized that they had a gun in their car when they were driving from Virginia to DC. Understanding those laws can make all the difference.

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