Prosecution of DC Gun Offenses

Someone facing gun offense charges in court should know that the prosecutors and courts take their case seriously and could impose restrictions on them. In nearly 99 percent of the cases involving guns, the person remains in custody from the period of their arrest until they go before the judge for their arraignment or presentment depending on whether the case is filed as a felony or misdemeanor.

Anyone facing charges related to a gun offense should contact a skilled gun lawyer to help them protect their rights and their futures. An attorney has the experience with the prosecution of DC gun offenses to help you create the best defense based on the facts of your case.

DC Gun Cases

Prosecution of DC gun offenses usually occurs in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. DC is a strange jurisdiction because it is not a state. There is a federal court, a district court, and also a superior court which is similar to state court. The federal prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s Office prosecute nearly all of the criminal cases in federal court and the superior court.

Unless a DC gun case involves terrorism, a conspiracy, or something of that nature, most gun offense cases are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the DC superior court. If a gun offense case involves misdemeanor charges, it is heard in the DC Superior Court but prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General.

Prosecutors treat gun offenses very seriously. The gun laws in DC are strict, and gun violence is a major concern to the community, prosecutors, law enforcement, and the DC government. There is a concerted effort across different stakeholders in the community to try to get guns off the street and to try to eliminate or minimize gun violence.

Preparing for the Prosecution

When someone is preparing for court for a DC gun case, they should know that gun offense cases are taken seriously by the courts, judges, and prosecutors. There were no diversion agreements extended in the DC in any gun case up until two years ago. It took that long for the Attorney General to decide that certain cases could be available for diversion.

Beginning the Court Case

The United States Attorney’s Office is in charge of the prosecution of DC gun offenses. At the first court date, the person is brought by the US marshals in custody before the court. The court sets their release conditions for the gun offense. The person remains in custody pending their next court date when probable cause is established for the gun offense, based on a Gerstein affidavit submitted by the police department. An officer swears to the accuracy of the affidavit and writes down specific information about the factual allegations.

The court examines the affidavit to verify that it establishes probable cause that the person standing in front of the judge committed the alleged gun offense based on the facts of their case. If the government requests that the person remains in custody based on a felony gun violation, the court has no discretion and must continue to hold them for a three-day hold for that gun offense until their next court date, the preliminary hearing.

There are times where the US Attorney’s Office is willing to not ask for that hold but, someone charged with a felony firearms offense should expect the prosecutors of a DC gun offense to ask that the court keeps the person in custody for at least the first few days until their next hearing, their presentment. The court has no discretion and must continue to hold the person.

Gun Trial Process

One issue that is fairly unique to a DC gun offense case is that in almost every case, the prosecutor must admit the firearm into evidence. The prosecution of a DC gun offense cannot just establish that the firearm was possessed by the person by simply having a witness testify that they saw the person holding a firearm. They must bring in the gun itself in almost every gun offense case.

A good example of why it is critical the government present the firearm when prosecuting a DC gun offense is if there is not enough evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the person possessed a firearm. If someone is alleged to have stolen a firearm or to have committed an unlawful gun offense, a simple receipt or description from a witness may not be enough evidence for the prosecution of DC gun offenses.