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Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Under both state and federal law, people convicted of certain crimes lose the right to possess firearms. As such, while it is lawful for most people to own or carry guns, convicted felons can face serious consequences if a gun is found in their possession. Further, as demonstrated in a ruling recently issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, constructive possession alone is sufficient to support a conviction for possession of a weapon by a felon. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a gun, it is advisable to talk to a Tacoma weapons charge defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a gun in violation of federal law. He was convicted following a trial. He subsequently moved for acquittal, arguing that the Government failed to set forth adequate evidence to establish that he knowingly possessed a firearm. Specifically, he argued that the Government neglected to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the intent and power to possess the weapon in question. The district court denied his motion, and he appealed.

Evidence Needed to Demonstrate Possession of a Firearm

The court upheld the trial court ruling. It explained that when evaluating whether evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction, it must assess whether, when viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the Government, a reasonable trier of fact could find the essential elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

The court explained that, despite the defendant's arguments to the contrary, evidence of constructive possession is adequate to establish possession of a firearm in a shared property. In other words, if a defendant is both aware of the weapon and has the ability and intention to exercise control and dominion over it, then they will have constructive possession over the weapon.

In the subject case, the court found that the Government introduced evidence that the defendant owned the home where the gun was found and that he reported multiple weapons stolen from the home. The court noted that it was nonsensical to think that the defendant would report a gun stolen if he did not intend to exercise control and dominion over it. Based on the foregoing, the court sustained the district court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Tacoma Criminal Defense Lawyer

In order to convict a person of a weapons crime, the prosecution must establish each element of the charged offense. If you are accused of unlawful possession of a weapon or another gun crime, it is wise to talk to an attorney about what evidence you may be able to offer in your defense. The skilled Tacoma criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Smith & White have ample experience helping people charged with gun crimes fight to protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at (253) 203-1645 to set up a conference.

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