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Articles Posted in Weapons Offenses

In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s appeal of his convictions was denied. The defendant had been found guilty of using a firearm after an altercation involving members of his family and another family with which they were feuding. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his guilty conviction. The court looked at the evidence in the record and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, sustaining his guilty convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, members of the defendant’s family were shopping at a local market one afternoon. While shopping, they saw members of another family with whom they had been experiencing a custody battle. Tensions rose at the market and members of both families began fighting.

Later that day, the same members of the defendant’s family appeared at one of the second family member’s homes uninvited. A fistfight quickly ensued. The families parted ways, but after a few minutes, the defendant himself returned to the house. The fight picked back up, and the defendant retrieved a shotgun from his car.

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In a recent firearms case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was denied. Originally, the defendant was convicted of possessing a firearm under the age of twenty-nine after having been convicted of a delinquent act that would be a felony if committed by an adult. Because he had been previously convicted as a juvenile, the defendant was prohibited from having a gun, thus the court found that he had possessed the firearm illegally. On appeal, the defendant argued there was not enough evidence to prove that he had been previously convicted. The court disagreed, ultimately affirming the guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was arrested in 2020 for a separate crime. When the police officer searched the defendant after arresting him, the officer found a firearm tucked into the waistband of the defendant’s pants. The officer checked the gun’s serial number, ran it through his system, and discovered that the firearm had been reported stolen earlier that day.

At the defendant’s trial, the Commonwealth of Virginia provided evidence that as a juvenile, the defendant had been found guilty of a crime that would have been considered a felony if it was committed by an adult. Under Virginia law, it is illegal for a person fitting into this category to possess any firearm. The defendant was then convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted non-violent felon.

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In a recent case coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant failed to successfully appeal his conviction of firearm possession. Originally, a trial court found that the defendant knowingly possessed a 9-mm handgun in his bedroom; on appeal, the defendant argued that he had no idea the handgun was actually on his bedroom floor. Given the facts of the case, the court disagreed with the defendant and affirmed his guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case had been previously convicted of statutory burglary, a crime that made it illegal for him to knowingly possess any firearm or ammunition for a firearm. One day, in late 2020, three police officers came to the defendant’s home when they received reports regarding a potential assault by the defendant on his girlfriend. The defendant’s girlfriend, who lived with him in the apartment, consented to the police searching the residence when they arrived.

Upon searching the defendant’s room, one of the officers found a box of 9-mm ammunition on top of the dresser, in plain view from the doorway. The officer also found competitive-fighting paraphernalia, men’s clothing that led her to believe the defendant was actively living in the room, and a 9-mm pistol sitting on the floor.

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In a recent firearm case coming out of a federal court in the southeast of the United States, the defendant’s appeal was successful. According to the defendant, the sentence he faced for a firearm offense was unnecessarily long, and the court should have calculated his incarceration time differently. The higher court agreed with the defendant, concluding that his sentence was incorrectly calculated and that the case should go back to the lower court so that the court could calculate the defendant’s sentence again.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with one count of knowingly possessing a firearm and ammunition. Instead of taking this case to trial, the defendant pled guilty and attended a sentencing hearing, in which a United States Probation Office would determine how long the defendant would face incarceration due to this crime.

At this hearing, the defendant learned that he qualified for a mandatory minimum sentence because of a federal law called the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”). This Act makes defendants in firearms cases face longer sentences if they have been convicted of certain other crimes at least three times. In this case, the defendant had been previously convicted three times with possession of marijuana. Specifically, he had possessed marijuana with intent to distribute in the proximity of a school. Because of these convictions, the Probation Office made his sentence longer than it would have been otherwise by referencing the ACCA.

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In a recent opinion from a Virginia court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his criminal convictions of rape, forcible sodomy, abduction, and the use of a firearm in the commission of these felonies. Originally, a grand jury indicted the defendant of all of the above charges based on his interactions with a woman he met in 2017. On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty. Rejecting this argument, the higher court affirmed the defendant’s convictions.

Facts of the Case

The defendant first came into contact with the victim in this case in 2017, when he approached her at a carwash to offer her some landscaping work. The victim was homeless at the time and was looking for ways to earn money, as her primary income came through cleaning and detailing vehicles that came through the carwash. The victim said yes to the defendant’s offer, and the defendant immediately drove her to his home where he gave her crack cocaine. The victim proceeded to spend the next few days with the defendant, sleeping at his house and following up on his offer to give her landscaping work.

The next couple of days after her arrival, the victim labored for eight hours each day on a large parcel of land, mowing and performing other various landscaping tasks. The defendant did not pay her for her work. At one point, the victim received a package from a friend that included a Bible and several food-related gift cards. The defendant stole all of the items from the victim, allowing her to keep only the Bible.

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In a recent opinion coming out of a Virginia court, the higher court disagreed with the lower court’s decision to grant a defendant bond. The lower court had previously decided that, since the defendant had been incarcerated for a long time, he should be allowed to leave prison before his trial was heard. The higher court disagreed, saying that this sole factor of time spent incarcerated was not enough reason to let the defendant out of prison earlier than originally planned.

The Facts of the Case

In September 2019, the defendant was charged, arrested, and incarcerated because of possession of a firearm after having been previously convicted of a violent felony. The defendant was first told to show up in court in October 2019; he appeared for his first hearing, and then waited for his case to be heard by the circuit court in Virginia. The defendant was called into court again in January 2020 for a bail hearing, but he requested that his hearing be postponed so that he could retrieve new counsel. Over time, the defendant kept requesting that his hearing be postponed, and his case was not heard in court until April 2021 as a result.

When the bail hearing finally happened, the defendant reassured the court that if he were released on bail, he would live with his mother and would have the ongoing support of his family. The defendant also asked the court if he could temporarily leave prison for one day the next week in order to attend the funeral of his grandmother who had recently passed away. At the hearing, the defendant’s mother testified by phone, saying she was sure that her son would “keep the peace” if he were allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

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Both the United States Constitution and the Virginia State Constitution contain provisions that prevent a criminal defendant from being charged or punished twice for the same offense. These protections from “double jeopardy” help form the backbone of the procedural due process rights that criminal defendants are entitled to under both the state and federal constitutions. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently decided to reverse a defendant’s convictions on these grounds, finding that he could not be convicted of two charges for the same conduct, and that the prosecution would have to choose one or the other charge upon a retrial.

The defendant in the recently decided case was charged with several crimes after an alleged burglary. Police were tipped off to the defendant after he was observed spending some old currency that appeared to be the same as that which was reported missing from the victim’s home. After serving a search warrant at the defendant’s house, police found allegedly stolen items in his possession, including jewelry, currency, firearms, and ammunition. Among other charges, the defendant was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon as well as possession of ammunition by a felon. At trial, the defendant was ultimately convicted of several crimes, including both the enhanced firearm and ammunition offenses.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the offenses of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon cannot be charged together under the circumstances of the case without violating constitutional double jeopardy clauses. The defendant convinced the appellate court that because the two charges arose out of the same occurrence, by the same factual pattern, and were not two separate incidents of possession, that he could not be punished for both. The Virginia Court of Appeals reversed both of the defendant’s convictions and instructed the prosecution to choose one or the other charge and retry the defendant.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia gun case discussing whether a detective’s warrantless search of a phone violated the defendant’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Ultimately, the court concluded that the search was legal and that the motion to suppress was rightfully denied by the lower court. The case illustrates when evidence obtained from a detective’s warrantless search can still be used in the trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, while attempting to retrieve his phone from inside the restaurant, the defendant approached a waitress in a very hostile manner. A private security guard stepped in front of the defendant, and the defendant eventually urged his friend to grab a gun from the car. The security guard drew his own weapon and asked the individual to drop his firearm. The individual put down the gun. Defendant then picked up the firearm and began firing his gun. The security guard fired back and struck the vehicle, prompting the defendant and his friend to drive away. The defendant did not return.

A detective later recovered a cell phone at the restaurant and without a search warrant, the detective went into the phone settings to find the phone’s identification serial numbers. The detective did not search any other part of the phone. Using the serial number, the security guard was able to find the name and photograph of the defendant. The defendant had an additional cell phone, which the detective used to track the defendant’s location and arrest him.

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A defendant recently appealed his Virginia conviction for possession of marijuana and various firearm offenses. The accused filed multiple motions to suppress, arguing that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the residence. On appeal, the court reviewed the evidence the defendant presented at his suppression hearing.

According to the record, police officers discovered the defendant’s location and attempted to serve outstanding arrest warrants. The home belonged to the mother of the defendant’s minor daughter; the defendant did not own or rent the home. When the defendant did not open the door for law enforcement, the officers entered the residence. The officers did not find the accused, but after detecting the smell of marijuana, they searched the residence and found him hiding near a shed.

The defendant argued that because he did not live at the home, the officers could not “enter and search the home of a third party” under a warrant for the defendant. The Commonwealth argued that they believed the accused lived at the home with the mother of his child. In the alternative, the Commonwealth argued that the defendant could not assert the “vicarious Fourth Amendment” rights of a third party.

Recently, the state supreme court issued an opinion in a case involving a man who allegedly fired a gun while celebrating the 4th of July. The case required the court to determine if the defendant’s statements to a detective were taken in violation of his constitutional rights. Ultimately, the court dodged the question at issue, finding that even if the lower court’s ruling was incorrect, any error stemming from the decision was harmless.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police received a call reporting gunshots on the 4th of July. Upon responding to the scene, officers spoke with two witnesses. One of the witnesses provided the officers with time-stamped video surveillance footage showing a man carrying a small black object in his hand.

Based on the footage, officers arrested the defendant and took him down to the station for questioning. While there, the defendant asked a detective, “Hey, can you call my wife to tell her to call my lawyer for me?” The detective indicated he would call the defendant’s wife. However, before he did, another detective came into the room and read the defendant his Miranda warnings.

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