Every US state has the right to regulate how weapons are used and owned, and Massachusetts is no exception. Massachusetts has passed several laws over the years that restrict how and when citizens can carry and use firearms.
If you have been charged with a Massachusetts weapons crime, remember that prosecutors will try to punish you with the maximum sentence if they convict you.
Below is more information about common Massachusetts weapons laws and crimes.
Weapons Crimes Penalties Overview
This state has strict firearms laws, and the sentences you can receive for gun crimes depend on several factors:
- The exact firearm crime that was charged
- The type of gun used in the crime
- Your criminal background, if any
Note that even when you have a firearms license, the prosecutor can charge you if you didn’t store your gun or ammunition properly. Also, people who are licensed to carry can still be prosecuted if they’re stopped for a traffic violation and the officer sees the gun or ammunition isn’t stored properly.
In addition, if the fire department comes to your home and they see your gun or ammunition isn’t being properly stored. It’s even possible to be criminally charged in Massachusetts if you don’t conceal your gun when you’re carrying it.
Many weapons crimes in Massachusetts carry mandatory minimum sentences, which means the judge must order you to serve at least that amount. While there are many critics of mandatory minimum sentences, they are still in effect for many weapons crimes in this state.
Carrying A Dangerous Weapon
You can be charged with carrying a dangerous weapon for many reasons. Some common examples:
- Having a gun in your car without a permit
- Having a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun
- Possession of other illegal dangerous weapons, such as nunchucks, locking knife, ballistic knife, or brass knuckles.
Depending on the case circumstances, you could receive at least 2.5 years in prison for this offense.
Note that if you have a license to possess a firearm (FID card), it doesn’t give you the ability to carry it outside your home or business. If you want to carry a concealed firearm, you must apply for a concealed carry license under Mass. Gen Laws. ch. 140.131.
If you are convicted of carrying a firearm without a concealed carry license, you can receive up to 18 months in jail.
Carrying a Shotgun or Rifle in Public
Massachusetts state law refers to carrying a gun in a ‘public way.’ This means you’re carrying the shotgun or rifle on a sidewalk, street, or another public area. If you are carrying a gun in one of these places, you could be charged.
If the gun is loaded at the time of the arrest, you may receive up to two years in state prison. If the gun has a large magazine, the state minimum sentence is one year, and you could get up to 10 years in prison.
Possession of a Firearm In the Commission Of a Felony
If you’re charged with a felony, carrying a firearm at the same time can lead to more criminal charges. Most of the time, it’s irrelevant if the gun is loaded or not.
For those facing their first possession of a firearm charge, you will receive at least five years in state prison. But if this is your second or subsequent possession offense, you will get at least 20 years in state prison.
Note that this sentence is in addition to whatever felony you were charged with. The sentence can’t be reduced.
Defenses For Weapons Crimes Charges
A weapons crimes charge is serious in Massachusetts, but there are several viable defenses your criminal defense lawyer will consider. For example:
- The police violated your constitutional rights when they arrested you or searched your home or vehicle.
- You weren’t actually in possession of the firearm in question.
- You didn’t know you were carrying the weapon. The prosecutor must prove you were aware you were carrying at the time of the arrest.
- The firearm was inoperable and incapable of discharging a bullet.
What To Do Next
If you have been charged with a weapons crime in Massachusetts, Attorney Nathan is the experienced criminal defense attorney you need. The prosecuting attorney will zealously attempt to convict you on your weapons charge, and you need a powerful legal advocate working at your side. For a criminal defense legal consultation, please contact him at (617) 472-5775.