Defenses to Gun Charges
The gun laws in Arizona, while permissive in some ways, are also incredibly strict. If you are convicted of a firearms offense, there is a very high chance that your sentence will include jail time. Not only that, but if the crime is a felony, you may face myriad other collateral consequences, such as restrictions on your right to own a gun in the future and difficulties obtaining a job or getting into school. However, even after an arrest, there are many defenses to gun charges that can result in the prosecution offering a plea on reduced charges, the case being withdrawn or an outright acquittal. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we think outside the box to get our clients the best result possible. For more than 20 years, we’ve helped countless clients get out from under the charges they face with as little impact on their future as possible.What Are the Best Defenses to Gun Charges in Arizona?
Every criminal offense has its own set of defenses, and firearm / gun / weapons offenses are no exception. Below are some of the most commonly used defenses to gun charges and a brief explanation of when they apply.Challenging Constructive Possession
To find you guilty of a gun crime such as weapons misconduct or being a felon in possession of a firearm, the government must prove that you “possessed” the gun. In this context, the term possession is fairly broad and includes what courts call “constructive possession.” Constructive possession is a legal fiction that enables a judge or jury to find that you possessed an item even though it wasn’t on your person. For example, if you are stopped in a car with four other people and a police officer finds a gun under the passenger seat, who can the officer arrest?
Unfortunately, the answer is anyone in the car. However, getting the case to stick against a defendant requires the government to prove that a passenger constructively possessed the gun. This requires that you 1.) knew of the gun’s presence and 2.) knowingly exercised control over the gun. An experienced Tempe criminal defense lawyer can challenge the government’s claim that you constructively possessed a firearm.Challenging the Officer’s Actions Leading Up to Your Arrest
Under the United States and Arizona constitutions, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. And, under the exclusionary rule, any evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights must be excluded from trial. Thus, if an officer pulled you over, searched your car or belongings, or patted you down without legal justification, any evidence they recovered can be kept out of trial through a motion to suppress. Every action that a police officer takes that infringes upon your freedom needs to be supported by either probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Thus, in many gun cases, a criminal defense lawyer can keep the only evidence against you—the gun—out of trial. This typically results in the government withdrawing the case against you.
These are the most common defenses to gun crimes, but there are many others. To learn more about your options, reach out to a Tempe gun crimes defense lawyer.Have You Been Arrested for a Gun Crime in Maricopa County?
If you are facing gun charges, it is imperative that you take the situation seriously and that you do not give up hope. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than two decades of hands-on experience aggressively defending the rights of clients just like you. We proudly stand up to overzealous police and prosecutors, ensuring that you receive the representation that you need, deserve, and are entitled to. With Attorney Novak in your corner, you can rest assured that your case—and your future—are in good hands. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.