Weapons offenses include any crime that involves using or carrying a firearm. Some weapons offenses that carry stiff penalties include carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, committing a felony while possessing a firearm, and unlawful discharge of a firearm. If you are charged with a felony weapons offense, you face the possibility of prison time upon a conviction. While a misdemeanor is not punished as harshly, it still creates a criminal record that can affect important areas of your life. Therefore, it is critical to retain an experienced Stamford gun crime lawyer who understands this complicated area of law, including the defenses that may apply to your case. Allan F. Friedman can provide knowledgeable and aggressive representation to people charged with weapons offenses in Fairfield County. He also can assist people who need a domestic violence attorney or help with fighting charges related to drug crimes, sex offenses, theft, assault, DUI, and many other charges.Fighting Charges of Weapons Offenses in Connecticut
In Connecticut, you must have a permit issued by the state (and not issued by a different state) to carry firearms. If you carry a pistol or revolver on your person without a permit, you can be charged with a violation of Connecticut General Statute 29-35 and be sentenced to 1-5 years of imprisonment. One year of this time cannot be suspended without a court deciding that there were mitigating circumstances. If you carry the weapon in a vehicle rather than on your person, you face a possible sentence of five years in prison. There are some exceptions to the rule requiring a permit to carry weapons. For example, this law does not apply to someone who is a member of a military organization that is on parade or that is going to or from a place of assembly.
You are also prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons on your person, such as long knives, brass knuckles, blackjacks, switchblades, BB guns, electronic defense weapons, and martial arts weapons. If you are found guilty, the weapon is to be forfeited to the municipality where you were apprehended. As with other weapons offenses, there are exceptions. For example, this law does not apply to the carrying of a baton or nightstick by a security guard who is engaged in their official duties. It also does not apply if you are carrying a four-inch or longer blade and are a member of the armed forces or a reserve component on duty or going to or from duty, or if you are transporting the knife as merchandise to be displayed at a gun or knife show. It also does not apply to historical reenactments and several other situations. You should not assume that a conviction is inevitable, therefore, since you may fall within an exception.
Another weapons offense is the intentional, negligent, or careless discharge of a firearm, such that it is likely to cause a physical injury to someone else or the destruction of property. This is a Class C misdemeanor.
It is also a misdemeanor to carry a loaded firearm while drinking. This is charged as a Class B misdemeanor and can result in a sentence of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Hunting while under the influence is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in one year of imprisonment and up to $2,000 in fines. If you injured someone with a firearm while drinking, you would also be charged with discharge of a firearm and other crimes.
Sometimes people carry firearms while committing felonies such as burglary or robbery. If you are found to have possessed a firearm while committing a Class A, B, or C felony, you can be sentenced to five additional years of imprisonment. This added sentence cannot be suspended. If the weapon is an assault weapon, the added prison term is eight years rather than five.The Evolution of Gun Laws in Connecticut Following Sandy Hook
After the notorious Sandy Hook massacre, an assault weapon ban and a high capacity magazine ban were instituted in Connecticut, and registration requirements were enhanced. It is a class D felony to possess a weapon that meets the legal definition of "assault weapon."
An assault weapon is defined under section 53-202a as (1) any selective-fire firearm that is capable of fully automatic, semiautomatic, or burst fire at the user's choice, (2) a firearm on a list of named firearms, (3) an unlisted semi-automatic pistol or rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has two of certain listed features, or (4) a part or combination of parts that is meant to change a firearm into an assault weapon. There is a mandatory minimum one-year prison term imposed for a conviction of possession of an assault weapon. It is a class C felony to illegally transfer or carry an assault weapon, and the mandatory minimum prison term for a conviction is two years. There are a number of exceptions, such as for law enforcement officers discharging official duties and for possession of specified models that were obtained in good faith in a certain time period.
A high capacity magazine is a firearm magazine, belt, feed strip, drum, or similar device that is capable of accepting more than 10 rounds of ammunition or that can be converted to do so. These cannot be legally bought, sold, distributed, or imported in Connecticut. If you buy, distribute, import, keep for sale, offer, or expose these for sale, you can be convicted of a class D felony. However, there are certain exceptions, such as a magazine that is permanently inoperable or a feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate over 10 rounds of ammunition. As with other weapons laws, there are a number of exceptions. It is not illegal to possess a high capacity magazine that you bought before the ban, but it needs to be registered, and other restrictions may apply.Defenses to Firearms Charges
Often, a defendant can defend against a weapons charge by invoking an exception in the substantive law. However, there may also be constitutional or procedural defenses. For example, law enforcement officers may have illegally seized the weapon under the Fourth Amendment. In order to search your home, officers usually must have a warrant, and to obtain the warrant, it is necessary to show probable cause. If evidence of a weapons offense is obtained illegally, such as when a search was conducted without a warrant or when there was no probable cause, it may be possible to have the evidence suppressed. Being unable to present an assault weapon as evidence of possession, for example, can destroy the prosecution's case.Hire a Knowledgeable Gun Crime Lawyer in the Stamford Area
If you have been charged with a weapons offense in Fairfield County, Allan F. Friedman may be able to answer your questions and develop a strong strategy to defend you. He provides each of his clients with personal attention and clear communication, and his rates are reasonable. Stamford gun crime attorney Allan F. Friedman also represents people in Bridgeport, Weston, Westport, Fairfield, Wilton, Cos Cob, New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, and Greenwich, among other Connecticut cities. Call us at (203) 357-5555 or contact us via our online form to schedule an appointment. Attorney Friedman also is available to assist you if you need a drug crime lawyer or representation in fighting charges related to theft, drunk driving, assault, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and many other crimes.