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Factors to Consider for Gun Crimes- Part I

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There are several factors to consider that will impact culpability and sentencing for gun crimes.  This article discusses culpability (guilt) for possession.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Gun Crime Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

There are several factors that we've discussed before regarding other crimes that will also affect the outcome of a case concerning one's culpability, or whether or not the case can be proven by a prosecutor. 

Possession of the weapon is crucial.  The Commonwealth needs to prove that a suspect either possessed the weapon directly or indirectly.  These types of possession are known as "actual" and "constructive" possession.  If one is in immediate control of the gun, then it's "actual" possession.  It's on your person, wasteband, hand, under your seat, or in your bag.  "Constructive" possession is where the gun is not directly on your person but may be where one has an immediate ability to possess the gun and control over it. The gun is in your car, in your house, or some other place that you know where to get it.

Obviously, constructive possession tends to be more difficult to prove.  The prosecutor must show that one had not only the ability to possess the gun, but that it was their weapon.  That is, the gun was in your house, your car, with your things, or had your fingerprints on it.  There must be evidence that connects you to knowing about the gun and having been in control over it.  Many times, this is the stumbling block of prosecutors who believe that they have sufficient evidence to connect the defendant to the gun.  As we have seen in the past, many prosecutors and police do not have fingerprints, a confession, or statements of others that will put the defendant in possession of the weapon and rely strictly upon the fact that the defendant was near the weapon or it was under their seat.

If you've been charged with a gun crime, get experienced legal counsel with a track record for acquittals on gun-related crimes.  Contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us.

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