DC Gun Offense Pre-Trial Release: Danger to Public 

When someone is facing gun charges, they are considered to be a danger to the public and are held for at least three days in custody pending their preliminary hearing, the next court date after the presentment on a felony charge.

Once a person has their preliminary hearing after the three days in custody, a different judge can make a determination whether to release the person. Felony gun charges are deemed to be crimes of violence in the District of Columbia and so it is a hurdle to convince the judge that this person is not a danger to the community if released prior to trial. A Washington, DC gun attorney can help you convince a judge that you are not a danger to the public.

Out of State Gun License

An example is a law-abiding citizen who was never arrested before who has a gun lawfully in Virginia. The person comes to DC for a concert, parks their car and is asked by the attendant or the security guard whether they have a gun. If the person affirms that they have a gun, they are arrested and brought to the court. The government can ask for the mandatory three-day hold.

Should that be the case and the person is in custody for three days, the person’s gun attorney can make a case to the judge in the preliminary hearing that the person does not have a criminal history. They did not come to the District intending to do something nefarious with their gun. They are a law-abiding citizen in the state in which they live. They have no criminal history and voluntarily admitted they had a gun. They are extremely cooperative and unfortunately, found themselves arrested and charged with a felony. They do not need to be kept in jail. That situation does not demonstrate that the person is a danger to the community and should be released prior to trial.

Previous Criminal History

On the other hand, a person may have a history of prior gun convictions or arrests, was caught distributing drugs, and had a gun on them. That person is quite likely to continue being held in jail pending the outcome of their case.

The one-time situation where a person did not realize the situation with Washington, DC gun laws and did not mean to be violating the law is completely different than another person who could have used that gun in a nefarious way and was dealing drugs while holding a gun.

The prosecutors and judges look harshly on the second situation. In either case, the DC gun charge defense attorney’s job is to highlight the good things about the person and why it is not necessary that they are held in custody. The attorney can draw attention to the person’s family, their responsibilities, their job, and their lack of criminal history, in an attempt to differentiate them from more dangerous people.

The defense attorney tries to convince the judge that it is not necessary to hold their client in custody pending the outcome of the case. Less harsh release conditions such as a halfway house or home arrest can be imposed. The judge can order the person to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. Any of these arrangements can be an appropriate pre-trial release.