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Richmond Gun Investigations

The following is information regarding gun charges in Richmond and how they are likely to be investigated according to a Richmond gun lawyer. If you believe you may be under investigation it is important you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and ensure that none of your rights have been violated. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.

Determining the Legality of a Firearm

Typically with gun investigations, the officers need to determine if the gun is legally in a person’s possession by running an individual’s record to make sure that there are no felony convictions, and to check their status as far as their citizenship is concerned, to check their age, and then lastly, to check to make sure that the individual does not have an active or pending protective order (pdf).

How Will Someone Know if Under Investigation?

The common strategy used by law enforcement in Virginia on a gun investigation is to contact the individual (usually right away) when the investigation begins to confirm some information. They’ll contact any dealer that they’ve purchased or have attempted to purchase a firearm from so usually an individual knows, fairly quickly, if they’re under investigation.

How The Attitude Toward Guns Impacts Investigations

The overall climate regarding guns in the City of Richmond varies a lot. Virginia is an open carry state, which means you can have a handgun in the open and/or you can have a rifle in the open. However, there is a zero tolerance policy if a firearm is not properly registered, if it is stolen, if the serial numbers have been removed, and even less so if it’s an illegal firearm used in the commission of the crime or even if it’s in someone’s possession. In all of those instances, Virginia, and Richmond, specifically, has taken a very proactive stance in prosecuting those cases harshly.

Common Types of Evidence

In Richmond gun investigations, the most common piece of evidence is the gun or weapon itself. The officers will use that to either show that it’s illegally obtained and/or if the serial number has been removed. The other evidence they’ll use is a person’s personal information or background information to show either that they’re in possession of the gun illegally, that they’re a felon, or that they’re not a properly registered resident.

The officers take evidence in gun cases either via searches due to stops for probable cause or reasonable articulable suspension, which allows them to conduct a search, or officers will use warrants to obtain information or to obtain evidence through a search of the vehicle or a search of the house.

Vehicle Searches During Gun Investigations

A police officer in Richmond can investigate or search an individual’s car for a gun, if they have probable cause of criminal activity or a reasonable articulable suspicion of any sort of criminal activity. For instance, if the individual has been arrested for drug possession or DUI, the officers can conduct a search. If the officer smells drugs or see drugs in the vehicle, they can conduct a search. If the individual tells the officer that he or she has a weapon in the car, obviously they will conduct a search thereafter.

Searches of a Person

Police officers can inspect the person to see if they possess a firearm, but only if they have probable cause or again, what’s referred to as reasonable articulable suspicion of any sort of criminal activity. This could range from someone drinking in public, being intoxicated in public, or suspicion of possession of drugs, and other similar activity.

When To Consult With An Attorney

An individual should call a lawyer for a gun investigation the minute they’re notified by police and/or have suspicion that they’re being investigated. In most cases the individual will be notified by the police that there is an ongoing investigation and will be asked to answer questions.  In addition, if someone is arrested or receives a summons for a gun charge, it is in that person’s best interest to contact a lawyer immediately.

What Goes In To Building a Defense?

As an attorney, in a gun investigation we’re looking to determine what the basis for the search was.  An attorney will want to determine if there was probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion for the search, and therefore whether the evidence was obtained legally.

Next, an attorney will look at the possession of the firearm or the intent to use the firearm. If the intent or possession of the firearm was legal or if the individual was legally allowed to possess a gun then that can be used to a defendant’s advantage.