The Supreme Judicial Court in Boston recently ruled that a BB gun allegedly used in a crime of robbery is not a ‘firearm’ under existing laws. The case stemmed from a jury conviction in the Superior Court where a defendant was indicted for several crimes including armed robbery with a firearm while masked.
In 2011, defendant Raheem Garrett was arrested and charged with several crimes including ‘armed robbery with a firearm while masked’ in violation of the armed robbery statute. Prosecution’s evidence that the defendant was armed with a ‘firearm’ – a BB gun allegedly used to commit robberies of a pizza shop and convenience store.
The defendant appealed the convictions, contending in his gun crime defense that the prosecution’s evidence was not sufficient to support the conviction for ‘armed robbery’ because a BB gun is not a ‘firearm’ contemplated under the armed robbery statute. Under Massachusetts law, armed robbery with a firearm is punished by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, a penalty that does not apply to unarmed robbery.
BB Gun Not a Firearm
On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court examined the armed robbery statute. Applying rules of statutory construction, the high court agreed with the defendant on his stand that a BB gun is not a firearm within the meaning of the law. The high court reversed the convictions and remanded the case to the Superior Court for entry of judgments on a lesser offense of unarmed robbery.
Importance of Criminal Defense Attorney
Gun crimes in the United States are ordinarily punished with mandatory minimum sentences between 1 to 5 years that are added to the penalty of another crime committed while violating gun crime laws. These laws carry statutory definitions of firearms and weapons that can be a source of dispute and challenges in court.
The ordinary citizen who is charged with a gun crime may plead guilty, not realizing that gun crime defenses are available to dismiss the charge, or reduce the offense charged and the imposed penalty.
If you or a family member is charged with a gun crime, it’s important to call a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and ensure that all defenses available in your case are raised and presented in your favor.
In California and throughout the United States, the law firm of Gurovich, Berk & Associates have over 35 years of combined experience in criminal defense cases. Call our offices today at (213) 385-1555 to speak to an attorney about your situation.