Our criminal defense law firm handles a large number of cases involving the illegal possession of guns and firearms. Most recently, we secured a not guilty verdict for a client (J.G.) who was accused of carrying an illegal gun in his car, following a routine car stop. What makes this case so interesting is that the client actually fled from police and was later arrested following a short pursuit through Philadelphia.
The original allegation was that our client, J.G, threw the gun from the car during the pursuit. The police did recover a gun along the pursuit path. Despite what appeared to be strong evidence against J.G, I convinced a jury of 5 men and 7 women to acquit him. Remember that in a criminal trial, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. Here, is how I was able to get this result
- Attacked the inconsistency of the Police Officer’s observation
- The case started with a routine traffic stop. Two Philadelphia Police Officers approached J.G.’s car. During the stop, the police officer who spoke directly to J.G. never testified that he saw a gun. His partner, however, claimed that she saw it underneath the car seat. Police observations are very difficult to overcome because the defense has to show that the officer’s testimony was not credible. It is an awful defense strategy to argue that a police officer isn’t telling the truth unless you have clear proof of it. The better defense strategy is to show inconsistencies in the officer’s statement.
- During this police officer’s testimony, I highlighted the inconsistencies between her testimony at the previous preliminary hearing, at the trial, and the information that she put in her report following the incident. While the inconsistences were minor, it was incredibly effective with the jury. Inconsistencies imply a credibility issue which your defense lawyer can later argue during closing arguments in any criminal case but especially those involving illegal weapons, drugs and narcotics.
- Attack the lack of a proper description of the gun
- The firearm in this case, was .357 Magnum with a brown wooden handle. Despite this distinctive handle, the observing officer gave a very general description to her fellow officer who eventually recovered the weapon on street about 5 minutes after my client was arrested. Again the lack of the description, may appear to be a minor issue but it’s huge in a case when the assistant district attorney (ADA) is attempting to prove actual or constructive possession of a handgun. While the 5 minute recovery may have posed a problem to our defense strategy, the lack of description created reasonable doubt in the minds of the juror that the gun found may not have been the gun the officer claimed that she saw prior the pursuit.
- Guns don’t freeze in 5 minutes
- The prosecution presented a Philadelphia Police Detective who admitted that the gun found was frozen to the point that it need to thaw out for 30 minutes in order for police to “make it safe” (meaning unload it). I was able to use this fact to attack the 5 minute recovery to show that the gun found had been there much longer than 5 minutes. This point tied in very nicely with points 2 and 3. The prosecution originally believed that the speed of the recovery was going to help its case but in the end it proved fatal. I personally believe that the jury made up their based on the “5 minute impossible frozen gun” theory.