Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Three Tips for Responding to Weapons Charges


Two people were placed in custody on July 25 following a shootout at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree that resulted in a teen bystander being injured. Law enforcement surrounded the mall after receiving reports that shots were fired. One of the men who was arrested now faces multiple weapons and assault-related charges. The man is now being held without bail at the Braintree Police Department. Law enforcement later stated that they believed the incident was a targeted incident of violence rather than a random act.


Weapons charges often arise in one of two situations. Law enforcement raises these charges as an add-on charge to a violent crime, or law enforcement searches a person or a vehicle after making contact for a preliminary reason like a traffic stop. To prepare you for responding to these charges, the following reviews four tips for responding to weapon charges.


Law Enforcement Must Have Lawfully Found Your Weapon


Regardless of the surrounding details, law enforcement must have lawfully found your weapon. Some lawful ways in which law enforcement can discover weapons include:


  • The weapon was in “plain view” when law enforcement arrived or the weapon became visible without law enforcement taking any additional action.

  • Law enforcement is permitted to “stop and frisk” someone if they have reasonable suspicion that the individual either has or is about to commit a criminal offense and that the individual is armed.

  • A search was made by law enforcement based on facts that would have led a reasonably prudent person to believe that the search would reveal a weapon.

  • When law enforcement takes an individual into custody, law enforcement can search for weapons to ensure their safety. 


Remember Your Right to Remain Silent


Besides constitutional arguments, many firearm offenses also require law enforcement to require proof of either specific intent or knowledge. Law enforcement is known to ask whether a person owned the firearm and what their use for the weapon was while investigating the offense. This might seem like a harmless question. In reality, law enforcement often relies on this information to prove a charge against you. If you are questioned about a weapon offense, avoid providing information about your permit, your name, or your address.


Understand What Happens if Law Enforcement Does Not Have a Valid Reason


If law enforcement lacks a valid reason for discovering your weapon, remember that the Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement did not find the weapon through a lawful means, this evidence is likely unconstitutional and not admissible as evidence in a court of law. If a weapon is found inadmissible, the underlying charge will likely also be dismissed.


Speak with an Experienced Violent Crimes Defense Attorney


If you or a loved one is charged with a violent crime in Massachusetts, understand that a conviction can result in serious penalties. As a result, you should not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.