Common Gun Charges in DC

Though the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees someone’s right to bear arms, there are still restrictions and laws that exist to ensure this right is exercised responsibly. Disregard of such laws in DC can result in serious criminal charges. There are many common gun offenses in DC, and if you are facing charges, an experienced DC gun lawyer can be a necessary asset for protecting your rights and building your defense.

Most Common Offenses

The most common firearm offense in DC is the possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. That happens when someone is caught with any type of firearm, such as a pistol, a shotgun, or a rifle. If someone is in the DC and that gun is not registered to them in DC, they can be prosecuted for unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm.

There are many situations where someone has lawfully obtained a firearm outside DC and comes into DC as a visitor or moves here and fails to register the gun. They can then be prosecuted for not having the gun registered in DC even though they purchased it, lawfully own it, and may lawfully possess it in another state. If someone comes into DC and does not leave their gun at home, even if they have a concealed carry permit, even if they are a special police officer or even a military member, if they are not on duty and have not had that gun registered in DC, they can be prosecuted.

Offenses Involving Pistols

Another common situation is someone carrying a pistol without a license outside of their home or business. Pistols are treated even more harshly than long guns like a rifle or a shotgun because pistols are involved in more crimes. They are easily concealable and there are more out there that people can use in crimes.

Carrying a pistol without a license means that the individual has not registered it in DC. They need a license to have a pistol or a license to carry it. If someone is not in their home or busines, instead, they are in a car or on the street and are caught with a pistol, that is a felony in DC. These are the two most common firearm offenses in DC.

Time Limit for Registration

There is no real grace period for someone to register their gun. Before someone brings a gun to DC, they need to contact the Metropolitan Police Department of DC, inform the police of their intent to register a firearm in DC, and begin the registration process. In that way, upon arrival in DC, they can bring the gun to the police station and have the formal processes completed so that the gun is registered to them in DC. Once the MPD is notified that a person is seeking to register a firearm being brought into DC, the person does have 48 hours thereafter in which to file the registration forms. If those conditions are met, then the person may have two days in which to lawfully have the firearm in DC pending registration.

There is a federal statute that provides the lawful transportation through a jurisdiction by someone who legally possesses a firearm in the place that they left and may legally possess that firearm in the place of their destination. For example, someone who lives in Virginia and has a firearm they legally purchased and possess in Virginia drives to a shooting range in Maryland. If they drive through DC, the only way that the federal law protects them is if they transport the firearm in the prescribed manner under the federal statute. It must be unloaded, kept in a trunk or otherwise locked up such that the driver cannot immediately access it and separate from any ammunition. The person cannot stop, they cannot have a destination in DC. DC now has a similar transportation statute with the same requirements.

Theoretically, a person loses the protection of these statutes if they even make a pit stop somewhere. Unfortunately, most people who are transporting firearms do not look into the specific manner in which the federal and DC statutes protect them. They have a general sense that because their gun is legal in Virginia and they are driving through to Maryland it is okay to stop in DC on the way to Maryland. They do not take the time to look closely at the specific legal requirements, and when they do, they end up facing these common charges in DC.

Working with an Attorney

DC gun lawyers will have the resources needed to handle a proper and full defense for any kind of gun charge in DC. They will be responsive and provide their client with immediate assistance. They have the necessary resources and investigators available for conducting the needed investigation, such as looking for evidence and witnesses, and for following up on evidence in a timely fashion.