It is a crime under Federal and Massachusetts law for a felon to carry or possess a firearm. However, Massachusetts law applies to armed career criminals and not just felons.
Massachusetts adopted the term ‘armed career criminal’ from the Federal Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (2006). Massachusetts General Laws Chapter. 269, § 10G, also known as the career criminal statute, allows a judge to order enhanced penalties if someone charged with possession of a firearm has prior convictions for certain violent crimes or serious drug offenses.
“Violent crime”‘ is defined in MGL chapter 140 section 121 as follows:
“any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or possession of a deadly weapon that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult, that: (i) has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another; (ii) is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping; (iii) involves the use of explosives; or (iv) otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.”
“Serious drug offense“‘ is any drug offense under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801, the federal Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, 21 U.S.C. 951, or the federal Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. App. 1901, that carries a prison sentence of ten years or more.
A serious drug offense is also any drug offense under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C involving the manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, that carries a prison sentence of ten years or more.
Definition of Career Criminals Under Massachusetts Law
The law defines three levels of career criminals. The minimum mandatory prison sentence increase with each level and are as follows:
- Conviction of a Level One Career Criminal for Unlawful possession of a firearm results in incarceration in a state prison for at least 3 years but not more than 15 years;
- Conviction of a Level Two Career Criminal for Unlawful possession of a firearm results in incarceration in a state prison for at least 10 years but not more than 15 years;
- Conviction of a Level Three Career Criminal for Unlawful possession of a firearm results in incarceration in a state prison for at least 15 years but not more than 20 years.
There are a few ways to defend against these charges. Most times the best thing to do is to challenge lawfulness of the search performed by the police the led to the discovery of the gun. Many times we have argued that our client never actually possessed the firearm. Many times a passenger in a motor vehicle will be charged with possessing a firearm even if they did not own the firearm and were not holding it. In situations where a firearm has been placed under the drivers seat or in the center console police might charge every passenger in the car with possession of the firearm. However, in order to get a conviction the prosecution will have to prove that the defendant knew that the firearm was under the seat or in the center console and that the defendant had the ability to get control of it and that the defendant intended to exercise control of it.
Charged With Possession of a Firearm? Call 508-584-6955 For A Free Initial Consultation
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Our knowledgeable and experienced Boston Loaded Gun Charge Criminal Attorneys at The Noonan Defense Firm are available to assist clients throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts, including but not limited to Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Scituate, Hanover, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook, Kingston, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Dartmouth, Westport, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Falmouth, Barnstable.