Gun Crimes by Previously Convicted Offenders

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 269, most gun crimes carry a minimum mandatory jail sentence. Under MGL c. 269 s. 10G, those mandatory sentences increase significantly for a defendant with certain prior convictions.

If you are charged with violating any of the following paragraphs:

(a) unlawful possession of a firearm; or

(c) unlawful possession of a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun; or

(h) unlawful possession or transfer of ammunition;

under MGL c. 269 s. 10, and you have a prior conviction for either a violent or serious drug offense, then you face a minimum mandatory 3 years, up to 15 years in state prison.

If you have two such prior offenses, and are charged under one of the preceding paragraphs, you face a minimum mandatory 10 years, up to 15 years in state prison.


If you have three such prior offenses, and are charged under one of the preceding paragraphs, you face a minimum mandatory 15 years, up to 20 years in state prison.


For purposes of this section, a "violent crime" that would count as a previous offense is defined as:

"any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or possession of a deadly weapon that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult, that: (i) has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force or a deadly weapon against the person of another; (ii) is burglary, extortion, arson or kidnapping; (iii) involves the use of explosives; or (iv) otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another."


For purposes of this section, a "serious drug offense" that would count as a previous offense is defined by MGL c. 140 s. 121 as:

"an offense under the federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801, et seq., the federal Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, 21 U.S.C. 951, et seq. or the federal Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. App. 1901, et seq. for which a maximum term of imprisonment for ten years or more is prescribed by law, or an offense under chapter 94C involving the manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, as defined in section 1 of said chapter 94C, for which a maximum term of ten years or more is prescribed by law."

Even if you are facing an enhanced sentence under this statute, it is important for your defense attorney to fully analyze all reports and prior offenses. In many cases, if your prior offense is very old or from out of state, the prosecution might have a difficult time obtaining the certified prior conviction. It is also very important for your attorney to analyze any prior convictions that are provided, as they may have insufficient information to hold up in court. If that is the case, your lawyer may be able to have your charge reduced.

If you have been charged with a gun crime, or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact our office immediately:

(617) 830- 2188
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