DC Possession of Prohibited Dangerous Weapons Lawyer

District law lists various types of weapons that people are not allowed to own. Some of the weapons of this list include machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, brass knuckles, switchblade knives, certain silencers on weapons, and any weapon commonly referred to as a blackjack.

Weapons, such as certain types of knives and razors, also are prohibited if someone intends to violently use them against another person. While someone is allowed to collect them, if an attorney can show that someone possesses these weapons with the intent to use them unlawfully against another person, then they are prohibited and can be charged under the possession of dangerous weapons statute.

The catalog of illegal weapons is complex and has specific nuances of legality regarding certain types of weapons. As a result, law enforcement could charge someone with unlawful weapon possession without fully understanding their violation. If you have been charged with possession of an unlawful weapon, you should speak with a DC possession of prohibited dangerous weapons lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney could review your case and determine what potential penalties you may face based on the illegal weapon you were allegedly in possession of.

Cumulative Unlawful Weapon Charges

Law enforcement can charge individuals other offenses alongside a dangerous weapons charge. If the police find someone in possession of a dangerous weapon with no other pending offenses, this person may only face a possession of an illegal weapon charge. However, these charges typically arise in the context of other offenses.

For instance, if law enforcement originally searches someone for a drug offense or at a traffic stop and finds an illegal dangerous weapon, this person could face a possession charge in addition to the charges related to the search. An illegal weapon is also frequently used in the commission of a crime, such as assault, robbery, or carjacking. Then, law enforcement may charge this individual with the violent crime they committed as well as the additional charge of possessing the prohibited weapon.

Understanding these compounding charges is important because penalties may increase depending on the situation. As such, simple possession of an illegal weapon is a misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is one year in jail or a $2,500 fine. However, assault with a dangerous weapon is a felony with the maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a $2,500 fine. A possession of an unlawful dangerous weapons lawyer in DC could review an alleged offender’s case to determine what kind of charges and penalties they may face based on the situation surrounding their case.

Proving an Illegal Weapons Charge

For a dangerous weapons charge, prosecutors must prove that the object in question qualifies as a dangerous weapon under the statute. This can be difficult or easy to prove based on the weapon. For instance, a shotgun that clearly has been sawed off is an illegal weapon under the statute. However, certain knives and razors may not qualify as a dangerous weapon depending on how they were used.

The prosecutor also must prove that the accused was actually in possession of it. The law defines possession as knowledge and control over an object. Often, prosecutors can prove possession because a person is caught holding the weapon or police discover the weapon in a person’s clothing or bag.

When the weapon is found not on the person, then the court analyzes the context of the situation. For instance, if police find the weapon in question in someone’s car, the jury may ask:

  • Where in the vehicle was the weapon found?
  • Was the accused the driver or a passenger?
  • How many people were in the vehicle?
  • To whom is the vehicle registered?
  • What is the nature and circumstances of the weapon?

If someone is driving their car by themselves and law enforcement discovers the weapon in the backseat in a backpack with the driver’s wallet in the backpack, those factors may support that the person was in possession. If a person is a backseat passenger in someone else’s vehicle and there is a firearm found on another person, then the person might have a stronger argument that they were not in possession of the weapon.

When possession is not clear, the prosecutor must prove it by looking at the overall context and circumstances to see if the evidence supports a finding that the accused is in possession with knowledge and control over the weapon at the time in question. A DC possession of illegal dangerous weapons lawyer can investigate an accused person’s case and evaluate if the prosecuting attorney may be able to prove possession in court.

Contact a DC Possession of Prohibited Dangerous Weapons Attorney

Someone accused of possessing a prohibited weapon may face serious consequences because it is a criminal offense. In addition to facing jail time and fines, an unlawful weapon conviction could impact employment status, their education opportunities, and their professional and personal relationships.

If you have been accused of possessing an illegal weapon, you should contact a DC possession of prohibited dangerous weapons lawyer to try to minimize these consequences. An attorney understands the complex the criminal process and could advise you on all your legal options. To schedule an initial case consultation, call today.