DC Gun Arrests

If you are facing charges, an experienced attorney can help you navigate DC gun arrests, as well as build an appropriate defense.

Common Scenarios

There are two common scenarios in which DC gun arrests usually take place. The first scenario includes someone from outside of the District of Columbia has a gun with them. They legally possess the gun in the state they are from.

They come into the District and are pulled over for a traffic infraction or park their car in a parking lot in or around the government buildings. The security guard or law enforcement officer asks if the person has anything in the car or searches the car. The person does not realize they cannot legally have their gun in DC because it is not lawfully registered in the District. They either admit they have a gun or the security guard or officer opens the trunk and notices a gun. The person is arrested immediately.

The second scenario is when the police conduct an investigation of someone who lives in DC. They are on the street or in a car and a law enforcement officer has probable cause to make an arrest because the person has drugs, was engaged in a fight, there is a DUI, or something similar.

Whatever the reason, they arrest the person and pursuant to the arrest, they search the person and/or their property and find the gun. In such cases, a misdemeanor arrest for an offense such as driving on a suspended license turns into a major felony case because the authorities located an unregistered gun in someone’s trunk.

Law Enforcement Approach

DC law enforcement makes an arrest immediately when they find a gun. When there are other situations or other crimes being investigated, the police may wait to gather more information before they seek an arrest warrant.

Any time there is a firearm, the person is immediately detained. The person is asked if they own the firearm and whether it is registered in the District. Once the individual answers those questions, the authorities will know how to proceed.

How Does Gun Registration and Transportation Impact a Case?

In any situation that involves a gun, law enforcement officers quickly check with the Metropolitan Police Department to see if the person registered the gun in the District of Columbia. If they have not, they are arrested.

If the gun is registered in the District of Columbia, the officer determines whether the person is transporting it lawfully. There could be charges if they are not, because there are specific ways in which a person must transport a firearm and where the person can actually have the gun in the vehicle.

Law enforcement considers three issues when someone is found with a gun in the District.

  • Is the gun registered with the Metropolitan Police Department?
  • What are the specific circumstances under which the person has the gun?
  • Where and how are they transporting it?

What to Expect

When someone is arrested for a misdemeanor offense they can expect to be released after being taken to the police station where they are booked and have their fingerprints and pictures taken. Their identifying information is put into the system and the person receives a citation to appear in court.

However, when a gun is involved, a person should expect to be held in custody until the next available court date.

There is a cutoff time of 10:00 a.m. for processing. If a person is arrested late at night, they can expect to be processed and make it by the 10:00 a.m. cutoff to appear in court at 1:00 p.m. the next day.

Conversely, if someone is pulled over around 8:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, a gun is found and they are arrested; it is unlikely that they can be booked, processed and done by the 10:00 a.m. cutoff. They must spend the Friday night in jail and come to court on Saturday.

What Are Some Aggravating Factors for a Gun Charge in DC?

When someone has a prior conviction and they are found to be in possession of a gun, they get a felony gun charge. The government can request a hold and the court has no discretion. If probable cause is found that the person committed the offense, they are held in custody for an additional three days. When they are already on probation, a hold can be based on that.

When a person is already in the system for an open case, the government may request a five-day hold which is discretionary by the court. With a felony, the government can request a three-day hold. A person must be held when the judge finds probable cause that they committed the offense.

How An Attorney Can Help

Overall, DC gun arrests can be intimidating and the legal system can seem overwhelming. An experienced attorney can work to help you navigate the process, guiding and advising you each step of the way.