Massachusetts Laws Related to Unlawful Sales of Firearms

The unlawful sale of firearms is a crime against the public peace in Massachusetts. The law prohibits knowingly or intentionally selling, distributing or transferring firearms, machine guns, shot guns or rifles to another person unlawfully. Among other things, it is unlawful to make such a sale when the purchaser does not have the required license, permit or card.

The punishments for this crime vary based on how many guns were unlawfully sold. The sale of three or more but fewer than ten firearms is punishable by a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years and a fine of up to $50,000. The prison sentence may be for up to ten years. Sale of ten or more but fewer than twenty firearms carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $100,000. This sentence too may range to up to ten years in state prison. The sale of twenty or more firearms is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years and a fine of up to $150,000. It is possible to get life in prison for selling twenty or more firearms unlawfully. None of these sentences can be suspended or reduced until the mandatory minimum is served. Prosecutions for the unlawful sale of firearms cannot be continued without a finding or placed on file.

What Are Potential Penalties For this Crime?

As these serious potential punishments and mandatory minimums illustrate, gun control is not taken lightly in Massachusetts. Our state is serious not only about the unlawful sale of firearms, but also about unlawful possession, defacement of serial numbers, and unlawful carrying of firearms. As such, prosecutors and law enforcement will forcefully seek convictions for these crimes.

Should Any Pre-Trial Motions Be Filed For This Type Of Crime?

One element that the District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to prove this case is that the object is an alleged firearm. Thus, it is often important to file a motion requesting that a defense expert have access to the item and examine it to ensure that it is actually a working “firearm” within the legal definition. It is important NOT to take the word of the Commonwealth’s expert or ballistician that it is a firearm. In layman’s terms, the item must be capable of firing ammunition through the barrel. If a minor adjustment can make the item fire, then it will still be considered a firearm. For example, sometimes the firing pin in a gun is broken. However, only a minor adjustment is necessary in order for it to be capable of firing. Thus, if the firing pin has to be replaced, it still may be considered a firearm. However, if this is a problem, it should still be raised as a defense because the District Attorney still has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is capable of firing to a jury.

Additionally, depending on the circumstances, a motion to suppress evidence or statements should be filed. In many cases, the successful litigation of these types of motions can lead to the dismissal of a case.

If you have been charged with unlawful sale of firearms, you should immediately contact a knowledgeable defense attorney. Kathleen M. McCarthy is a leading criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. Her entire legal career has been focused on criminal law, and her expertise in that area is unsurpassed. McCarthy has built an outstanding track record of success in her more than twenty years’ experience, and her clients appreciate her not only for her skill and intelligence, but also for her careful attention to all of their concerns. If you or a loved one has been charged with the unlawful sale of firearms or any other crime, call the Law Offices of Kathleen M. McCarthy at (978) 975 8060 or contact her online today.