The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the rights of U.S. Citizens to keep and bear arms. These protections, while granted in the 18th century with the adoption of the Bill of Rights, are regularly open to reinterpretation by courts. The United States Supreme Court has the final say on constitutional issues such as the Second Amendment, and Supreme Court rulings may have an effect on state criminal prosecutions. The Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court recently released an opinion that addressed a defendant’s appeal of his firearm conviction in light of a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling which appeared to have broadened the protections of the Second Amendment.
According to the facts discussed in the recently decided opinion, the defendant in the case at issue was arrested and charged with firearms offenses after authorities responded to a tip from a confidential informant that the man possessed an unregistered firearm. After a trial in which the defendant unsuccessfully challenged the evidentiary and legal basis for the charges against him, the defendant was convicted of unlawfully carrying a loaded firearm. Although Massachusetts law exempts license holders from criminal liability under the statute, neither the defense nor the prosecution presented any evidence of the defendant’s possession of a valid license at the time of his arrest.
After the defendant’s conviction, the U.S. The Supreme Court decided the case of New York State Pistol and Rifle Association v. Bruen, in which the court found that the Second Amendment protected citizens’ right to possess a firearm outside of the home. On appeal, the defendant argued that in light of the Bruen decision, the government needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not have a valid license to possess the firearm for which he was charged. The state high court agreed with the defendant, finding that the previous law placing the burden on a defendant to prove licensure was no longer valid in light of the Bruen decision, which required the government to establish a lack of a license as an essential element of the crime. Based upon the appellate opinion, the defendant’s conviction was reversed, and verdicts of not guilty were entered on the charges against him.
How to Confront a Massachusetts Gun Charge
If you or someone close to you has been arrested, charged, or convicted of a Massachusetts firearm offense, it is possible that the prosecutors are seeking a conviction under state criminal laws that are no longer valid since the Bruen ruling was entered. Prosecutors are known to pursue whatever legal theories they can to win their cases, and if a defendant is not represented by competent counsel, the prosecution may get away with sending a defendant to jail on charges they should not have been allowed to pursue in light of the new precedent. The Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy are experienced in fighting against cutthroat prosecutorial tactics, and with our knowledge of the evolving relevant laws and skilled defense work, you can have confidence that your case is being defended competently. Our firm represents clients facing all Massachusetts misdemeanors and felonies, including firearms offenses. Contact our office at 617-367-0450 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.