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Gun Crimes in Norfolk County

Gun Crimes in Norfolk

In Norfolk County, Massachusetts, gun-specific crimes refer to any unlawful dealings with a gun. It covers actions of gun possession, transfer of gun ownership, firearms sale, and other general actions associated with firearms that are done unlawfully or without following the legal procedures required for performing these actions. Some of these gun-specific crimes are provided in the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 269, Section 10, with their corresponding penalties:

  1. Unlawful possession of a firearm - is punishable by an imprisonment term between two and one-half and five years in the state prison or between 18 months and two and a half years in a jail or house of correction. There is a mandatory term of 18 months before an offender is eligible for parole.
  2. Production or sale of a firearm without complying with serial number requirement may lead to confinement in a jail or house of correction for a maximum term of two and a half years or a maximum fine of $500.
  3. Transfer of a firearm without due procedure may result in imprisonment in jail or house of correction for a maximum of two years or a maximum fine of $500 for a first offense. For a subsequent offense, the punishment is a maximum of two years imprisonment in a jail or house of correction or a maximum fine of $1,000.
  4. Failure to surrender revoked firearm or firearm license is punishable by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for a maximum term of two and a half years or a maximum fine of $1,000.
  5. The consequence for taking a firearm into any building or a school without express authorization is a maximum fine of $1,000 or a maximum term of two years in a jail or house of correction, or both the fine and imprisonment term.
  6. Possession without a license may be punishable by two and a half years and up to ten years in state prison.
  7. Unlawful possession of a loaded firearm attracts an extra punishment of two and a half years in a jail or house of correction.

Also, the relevant authorities will confiscate the firearm of an offender under any of the gun-specific offenses. Note that other procedural requirements for dealing with a firearm are contained in other sections across the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), and failure to abide by them may be an offense. An example is in MGL Chapter 140, Section 128B. It requires a purchaser of a firearm to notify the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services in writing about the source of the firearm within seven days of purchase. Anyone who violates the provision is liable to a fine between $500 and $1,000 for a first offense and a maximum imprisonment term of ten years for subsequent offenses.

How many Gun Crimes are Committed with a Legally Obtained Firearm in Norfolk County?

The Massachusetts State Police keeps track of crime trends across the state and publishes them through the CrimeSOLV website. The purpose of the record is to understand the crime trajectory in the state and also keep citizens informed. These crime trends include weapon violation offenses which gun-specific crimes are a part of. Additionally, the crime trends cover instances where a firearm was used in the commission of an offense.

In 2017, there were a total of 136 weapons law violations in Norfolk County. These violations included

  • 125 cases of unlawfully possessing or concealing a weapon
  • Six cases of unlawfully using a weapon
  • Three cases of unlawfully transporting a weapon
  • One case of unlawfully buying or receiving a weapon
  • One case of unlawfully selling or distributing a weapon

One homicide was caused by the use of a handgun, and firearms were used in the commission of 78 aggravated assaults.

Who Can Possess a Gun in Norfolk County?

To lawfully possess a gun in Norfolk County, an individual must first obtain a license. There are two gun licenses in Norfolk County, and the requirements for obtaining both licenses vary.

  • A License to Carry (LTC)
  • Firearms Identification Card (FID)

An LTC gives grants the legal permission to possess, transport, purchase, and carry both large and non-large capacity shotguns, handguns, rifles, and feeding devices, including their respective ammunition. An LTC also gives its holder legal permission to carry loaded or unloaded concealed handguns. On the other hand, an FID gives legal permission to possess, transport, and purchase non-large-capacity shotguns, rifles, and their respective ammunition.

The gun licensing authority in Norfolk County is the local police department. Visiting a local police department is the first requirement to obtaining a gun license because the police department provides the relevant forms, information, procedures, and further requirements. Typically, to obtain an LTC, the applicant must be 21 years old or older. On the other hand, to obtain an FID, the applicant must be 18 years or older. However, 14 - 17-year-olds can also get an FID with parental consent. 14-year-olds will not be issued the FID card until they are at least 15 years old. The required fee to get an LTC or FID is $100, and both licenses last for six years. Note that the $100 fee for an FID license is only applicable to persons above 18 years of age. For persons below 18, the fee is $25.

Also, first-time applicants for any gun license must complete a Massachusetts Certified Firearm Safety Course or a Basic Hunter Education Course. For further assistance, applicants may inquire from the local police department.

Non-residents do not need a firearm license to carry or possess a shotgun or rifle or their respective ammunitions if they have a valid Massachusetts non-resident hunting license. Also, non-residents do not need a license or permit to go through Massachusetts with a firearm, although the firearm must be unloaded and enclosed in a case.

What if my Gun is Stolen and Used in a Crime in Norfolk County?

Individuals licensed to possess firearms in Norfolk County are generally required to keep their firearms safe. However, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140, Section 129C further requires individuals who may have had their firearm stolen to report to the commissioner of the department of criminal justice information services or the licensing authority in their town of residence. Failure to make such a report within seven days of the theft is a violation of the law which attracts a fine between $500 and $1,000 for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine is between $2,500 and $7,000. The punishment is more severe for third and subsequent offenders. It attracts an imprisonment term between one and five years or a fine between $7,500 and $10,000, or both a fine and imprisonment. Failure to report may also lead to a suspension or permanent revocation of the individual’s firearm license.

For further inquiries on the repercussions of misplacing a gun, interested individuals may visit their local police department for inquiries.

How Often is a Gun Used to Stop a Crime in Norfolk County?

Generally, guns are used by law enforcement agencies in the prevention of crimes and by citizens for self-defense. Statistics help law enforcement in developing better procedures for fighting crimes.

Consequences for Immigrants with Gun Crime Convictions

Immigrants who commit any of these offense classified as a deportable offense may be deported on such grounds, depending on their participation and severity of the offense. Accordingly, any firearm violation is under a deportable offense, as provided in 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C). An immigrant convicted of a firearm offense in Massachusetts may be deported. However, MGL Chapter 278, Section 29D provides that courts must inform immigrants in a trial of how a guilty plea may affect their immigration status or lead to deportation.

Norfolk County Weapons and Firearms Violation Attorneys

Norfolk County weapons and firearms violation attorneys primarily defend individuals being prosecuted for a violation of any firearm law. Depending on each case, they typically develop arguments and defenses to defeat the prosecution’s case, or minimize their client’s liability and punishmnet. Norfolk County generally has a good number of weapons and firearms violation attorneys, although Quincy city has a high concentration of such attorneys compared to other cities.

The defenses for a gun charge largely depend on the facts of each case and may include

  1. Constitutional defenses: The Fourth Amendment to the US Consitution restricts a police officer from searching an individual or their property without probable or reasonable cause. The defendant may rely on the defense that their constitutional right was violated in situations where the charge is based on a stop-and-search by a police officer. Failure of the prosecution to prove the existence of a reasonable cause for a search will largely lead to a dismissal of the charge.
  2. Another defense is to argue that the gun does not come under the classification of a firearm under the relevant law. To be convicted of a gun charge, an individual must be in possession of, or unlawfully deal with, what the law defines as a firearm. If successfully proven that the purported gun does not classify as a firearm, then it is not a gun in the eyes of the law. Note that it is difficult proving this. Also, note that successfully using this defense will likely lead to a different charge like possession of a dangerous weapon. However, an attorney may use this defense if it will be easier to disprove any other charge that may come up.
  3. Lack of Knowledge: Some gun charges, such as unlawful possession of a gun inside a vehicle, requires the prosecution to show that the accused had knowldge that the gun was in the vehicle. Here, the defense attorney can argue that the accused was not aware that the gun was in the vehicle. Note that the court may still impute knowledge on the accused depending on the circumstances, where it is reasonable that the accused ought to have known a gun was present in the vehicle.
  4. Exempted individuals: The law sometimes exempts certain individuals from violating a firearm provision. In most cases, security agents are exempted from violating firearm provisions. In other cases, persons with express permission to carry a gun are also exempted. Where the defense attorney successfully proves the accused was exempted by law or consent where applicable, the gun charge will fail.

Defense attorneys may present other unique defenses, depending on the facts of each case.

Gun Enhancement Defenses

A gun enhancement charge is an additional charge that prosecutors aim to use in increasing the potential punishment of an accused person. The charge is based on any enhancing factors which may aggravate the offense, such as the commission of another crime with a gun, a previous conviction, or the use of a gun in a residential area. In convincing the court to dismiss such a charge, the defense attorney also develops defenses which include:

  1. License: A license grants legal permission for some actions in relation to a gun. Where it can be established that the accused had legal permission to handle and use the gun in the particular scenario, then the gun enhancement charge may fail.
  2. Another defense is to disprove or dismiss the factor that the gun enhancement charge is hinged on. For example, taking a loaded gun to a populated area can be an enhancing factor in some cases. However, this enhancing factor can be disproved or dismissed by proving that the gun was not loaded or the accused had legal permission to possess the gun in the public area. The legal permission could be based on the job of the accused, a license, or any other thing.
  3. A further defense is that the accused’s constitutional rights were violated during the gathering of evidence. The defense attorney may bring a motion to suppress any evidence obtained through the constitutional violation. Note that the court may not always grant this motion.