Gun Possession Lawyer
Firearms Charges in Philadelphia
In response to the increase in violent crimes committed with illegal guns, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed stiff penalties for gun possession. The stakes, and sentencing guidelines, are higher if you are not eligible to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm pursuant to Title 18, Section 6109, of the Crimes Code. The courts in Philadelphia, and surrounding counties, are imposing even harsher penalties for people who can’t legally possess a gun under Title 18, Section 6105.
Harsh Federal mandatory minimum sentences also apply for possessing firearms under 18 U.S.C. §922. However, the First Step Act (1SA) eliminated stacking of firearms offenses. Now, the federal penalties (18 U.S.C. §924) for a “second or subsequent” conviction only apply if the person has a final conviction for using a firearm prior to the current offense.
In handling your firearms case, Andrew Gay, Jr., will uncover every piece of evidence in preparing your case, including witnesses and area surveillance footage. While many different defenses may exist, generally, there are two ways to approach an illegal gun case in Philadelphia:
- A motion to suppress evidence
- Challenge the sufficiency of the evidence
Hiring the right lawyer familiar with how the Philadelphia state and federal courts work is the starting point to lay the foundation of your defense. Whatever strategy best fits your facts, the defense begins with a thorough preparation of your preliminary hearing.
Motion to Suppress
To win a motion to suppress physical evidence in the Philadelphia criminal courts, you must convince your judge that the police illegally obtained the evidence (i.e., a weapon or narcotics) against you. If the judge agrees that your Pennsylvania or federal constitutional rights were violated by an illegal search, the evidence will be thrown out at trial.
Sufficiency of Evidence
If evidence is otherwise admissible, Andrew Gay, Jr., will analyze the facts to see if the Commonwealth or United States Government can prove you actually possessed the gun. This is generally referred to as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. If the police wish to attribute an illegal item to you that was not recovered from your person (i.e., nearby car or home), hire the experience needed to challenge whether you constructively possessed that item.
Concerning the concept of constructive possession, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, in a January 2020 decision, held that a passenger in a vehicle did not possess the contents of a locked glovebox. In the matter of Commonwealth v. Terry Bowens, Bowens was a passenger in a companion’s car that was stopped by the police. Although the glovebox was directly in front of him, the evidence showed the key for the compartment was “secreted” in the driver’s sweatshirt. The Court rejected the trial court’s conclusion that Bowens simply could have asked the driver for the key to the glovebox, and thus, he knew about the illegal items. Ultimately, the Commonwealth was unable to prove that Bowens was even aware of the existence of the narcotics and firearm, and thus, unable to prove that he constructively possessed those items.
If the government (Philadelphia Police, DEA, FBI or USPIS) wish to attribute an illegal item to you that was not recovered from your person (i.e., nearby car or home), hire the experience needed to challenge whether you constructively possessed the weapon. Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, Andrew Gay, Jr., will explain all of your pre-trial and trial options and properly prepare your case for the best result, given your particular circumstances.
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Philadelphia is no longer imposing mandatory minimum sentences on Guns & Drug cases. On August 20, 2014, the Superior Court of PA declared these sentences unconstitutional in the matter of Commonwealth v. Newman, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alleyne v. United States.
Federal Prosecution for Illegal Firearm Possession
Preparing for Your Criminal Defense Trial
Learn how we prepare to get you the best possible outcome
Speaker: Andrew Gay, Jr., Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer
“In a criminal matter, preparation is key. Whether you are walking into a preliminary hearing room, or you are preparing for trial.
When I’m preparing for your criminal trial, I will look over every scrap of evidence that exists. I will look at police reports, witness statements, 911 tapes, transcripts of 911 tapes, preliminary hearing testimony, anything that is available for me will have been thoroughly reviewed and discussed with you before we walk in.
I will know what each individual witness has to say about the most important issues in your trial. And it’s honing in on those important issues and the differences in testimony between the prosecution witnesses and the defense witnesses that will better prepare me to make sure that the correct argument is made to your jury.
In order to make sure that I’m able in your criminal trial to attack the witnesses that are testifying against you, I make sure that I look at each and every statement and compare it to their prior testimony at a preliminary hearing to make sure that there is no way for them to change their story, to make sure that there’s no way for them to then embellish upon what they previously told the police, or what they previously testified to in court. And many times, being able to attack a witness based on prior inconsistent testimony is what helps us win criminal trials.
It’s very important for you as the client to make sure that you have someone on your side from the very beginning of the case. So waiting to hire a lawyer until after the preliminary hearing many times is a big mistake, because if the lawyer who’s representing you at trial also properly prepared for your preliminary hearing and interviewed your witnesses prior to your preliminary hearing, the trial result is going to be much better.”
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