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What it means to Possess a Firearm in Massachusetts

In a Massachusetts gun charge of possession of a firearm without an FID card, there are typically three common defenses that are successful in fighting the case:

1.  That you did not possess the firearm

2.  That the seizure of the firearm from you was unlawful

3.  That the method by which the police found the firearm violated your Fourth Amendment rights

In the case of Commonwealth v. Lawrence Knowles, the defendant was arguing that he did not possess a firearm; possession can be both actual and constructive.  Actual possession is when the firearm is on your “person”, in your waistband, pocket, or in your hand.  In those cases, the primary defense is likely to be a Fourth Amendment challenge to the seizure of the firearm.

In a case where the gun is not actually on your person, but in the center console of your car, for example, the Commonwealth will proceed under a constructive possession theory.  This means that the Commonwealth will attempt to show that even though you did not have the gun in your hand, you had constructive possession, meaning the ability to exercise control over the firearm.

In the Commonwealth v. Lawrence Knowles case, Boston police officers responded to an area in Jamaica Plain, where the defendant was sitting in his car, staring straight ahead, crouched down, with his hands out of plain sight. While the defendant was not cooperating with the officers at first and was refusing to talk to them, he eventually mentioned that he can “shoot them” and that he had enough rounds for “nine of them”.

After escorting him out of his vehicle, the officers conducted a search of Knowles’ truck, uncovering a revolver, a semiautomatic pistol, along with marijuana and various other personal items; when asked, the defendant stated that the guns were a gift from his girlfriend and that he did not think he needed a permit to carry them.

At trial, the primary issues in the cases centered around whether he knowingly possessed the two firearms that were found in his truck. A constructive possession case relies on circumstantial evidence.  The key factors in a circumstantial case include what other items were around the gun, who owned the car, who owned any property around the gun, how close were you to the gun.  To read more about issues in the Commonwealth v. Larence Knowles case visit the mass.gov website here.

If you have questions about a gun charge you are facing or any criminal matter, please feel free to give us a call at DelSignore Law today. We are available to discuss your case with you and go over the police report with you. Contact us today.

To read more about gun crimes, including the defenses that may be available to your case, and the charge of possession of a firearm without an FID card, visit our website today.

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