Illegal Possession of a Firearm

In Massachusetts, gun possession is highly regulated and firearm crimes are strictly enforced. 

Unless you fit into one of the narrow statutory exemptions, under MGL c. 269 s. 10, you face a mandatory minimum 18 months in jail, up to 5 years in state prison, if you do: 
  1. Knowingly possess, or knowingly have in your control in a vehicle
  2. A firearm, loaded or unloaded
WITHOUT either: 
  1. being present in your residence or place of business; or
  2. having in effect a license to carry firearms issued under MGL c. 140 s. 131 or MGL c. 140 s. 131F; or
  3. having complied with the provisions of MGL c. 140 s. 129C and MGL c. 140 s. 131G; or 
  4. having complied as to possession of an air rifle or BB gun and while
  • knowingly in possession, or knowingly in control in a vehicle
  • of a shotgun or rifle
  • without any of the foregoing exceptions; or
  • without having in effect a firearms identification card issued under MGL c. 140 s. 129B.

Under MGL c. 269 s. 10H, it is a separate crime to carry a loaded firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if you are otherwise licensed to carry a firearm. You face up to 2 1/2 years in jail and $5,000 fine for violating this statute. 

Under MGL c. 269 s. 12D, it is a crime to carry a rifle or shotgun on a public way.  If the rifle or shotgun is loaded, you face up to 2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. If the weapon is unloaded, you face up to $5,000 fine. If you are believed to be in violation of this statute, the police can arrest you without a warrant. If the rifle or shotgun is considered a "large capacity" weapon, and it is simultaneously carried with a fully or partially loaded large capacity feeding device, you face a mandatory minimum one year jail sentence, up to 10 years in state prison, along with a $10,000 fine. 

Under MGL c. 269 s. 11C, if you in any way participate in removing, defacing, altering, obliterating or mutilating the serial number or identification number of a firearm, or if you receive or possess a firearm with knowledge that such defacing of the serial or identification number has taken place, you face a mandatory minimum 30 days in jail, up to 2 1/2 years in jail.


A firearm is defined as: A pistol, revolver or other weapon, loaded or unloaded, from which a shot or bullet can be discharged and of which the length of the barrel or barrels is less than 16 inches or 18 inches in the case of a shotgun as originally manufactured; provided, however, that the term firearm shall not include any weapon that is: (i) constructed in a shape that does not resemble a handgun, short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun including, but not limited to, covert weapons that resemble keychains, pens, cigarette lighters, or cigarette packages; or (ii) not detectable as a weapon or potential weapon by x-ray machines commonly used at airports or walk-through metal detectors. 

This is just a summary of the firearms statutes and their exceptions. A full analysis of your case and circumstances is necessary to provide an adequate defense. It is important to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest, or the facts leading up to the police allegedly finding the firearm. If the search is invalid, then this charge cannot stick. Additionally, if you were improperly identified as the person in possession of the firearm, or you weren't in direct control of the firearm, or if the firearm in question does not fit the statutory requirements for this charge, you may have grounds to suppress the evidence. It is extremely important that you exercise your constitutional right to remain silent, and not provide any information to police, even if you are trying to profess your innocence. Your first instinct should always be to contact a criminal defense attorney to make sure that your rights are protected. 

If you have been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, contact our office for your free initial consultation: 

(617) 830- 2188 


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