Gun charges are taken very seriously in Massachusetts. Many gun charges have mandatory minimum jail penalties which require a convicted person to serve at least 18 months in jail. Perhaps the most common way a person gets charged with a gun is during a traffic stop search. What usually happens is a person is pulled over for a driving infraction and somehow the car ends up getting searched where a gun or drugs are found.
There are two different ways the state can prosecute a person with a gun charge. The first way is called actual possession. When a gun is found on or there are witnesses saying a person possessed a firearm that is considered actual possession. The second way is called constructive possession. In order to prove constructive possession, the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had knowledge of a gun, ability to exercise control over that gun, and had the intent to exercise control over that gun.
In one of my recent gun cases, the judge agreed to dismiss the gun and drug charges against my client because the judge agreed with me that the government lacked evidence to prove constructive possession.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the Romero case that the owner of the vehicle without additional incriminatory evidence is not enough to prove that the owner had the intention to control the firearm. It is still not enough if the owner is driving the car and may be in close proximity to the firearm when it is found.
If you are charged with a gun case, it is very important to speak with a lawyer before making any decisions. Romero and its related cases may have a great effect on the outcome of your case. My client was facing 18 months mandatory time in jail, instead the case has been dismissed and the client kept their job, their home and their life.