Case Studies: Firearms and Weapon Charges


Banker Avoids Illegal Rifle Transport Conviction

A banker retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after prosecutors charged him with illegal transport of a rifle without a valid firearms purchaser identification card (FPIC). The banker was driving through New Jersey on the way to northern hunting grounds. The banker had in his vehicle a rifle his friend owned. The friend was meeting the banker at the hunting grounds by air travel. Police stopped the banker on a routine traffic infraction when they noticed the rifle case on the back seat. They requested that the banker produce the FPIC card for the rifle, and when the banker could not do so, they arrested the officer on the transport charge. Although our client had told the officer that the rifle was not his and that his friend doubtless had such a card, the charge relied on a statutory presumption that the rifle was in our client's possession because it was in our client's vehicle. Preliminarily, we ensured that our client was free to continue on his travels and to return to his out-of-state home, on the assurance that he would return as necessary to answer the charge. Our defense approach was then to confirm for the local prosecutor, with whom our Team had long-standing relationships of trust and respect, that the weapon's owner in fact had the proper documentation for the rifle's purchase, ownership, and transport, including the FPIC card. Our defense approach was to further establish our client's bona fides in having lawful licenses and documentation for his own firearms in the vehicle and in acting as he did in reliance on his friend as to his friend's valid documentation for the one rifle. The prosecutor subsequently voluntarily abandoned the charge.

Grocer Successfully Defends Weapons Possession Charge Under the Domestic Violence Act

A grocer retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after police arrested him for unlawful possession of a weapon in violation of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The grocer's wife had obtained a restraining order against the grocer requiring the grocer to relinquish possession of all firearms and remain out of the home except to recover clothing and other personal effects when accompanied by law enforcement. The grocer had done so, conveying his firearms collection to a dealer for safekeeping pending the order's dissolution. Unknown to the grocer, though, a fellow firearms collector had returned a collector handgun, one that the other collector had cleaned, repaired, and appraised, to the grocer's locked garage where the grocer had a bench for working on firearms. The wife discovered the handgun on the workbench and called the police alleging the grocer's violation of the order. The weapons possession charge followed. Our defense approach relied on the order prohibiting our client's presence on the premises except when accompanied by law enforcement. Our defense further relied on our client's lack of knowledge of the handgun's return and practical lack of access to it. When we presented the friend's attested statement confirming the above account of the handgun's return, the prosecution dropped the charge.

Medical Student Avoids Conviction for Bringing a Weapon on University Property

A medical student retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after local authorities charged him with unlawful possession of a weapon on university property. Our client acknowledged that the university had a policy prohibiting weapons on campus, although our client maintained that he was unaware of state criminal law to the same effect. But our client further maintained that he had not intended to bring his handgun onto university property and had forgotten that his handgun was in his car. Our client, who lived off campus, had packed his vehicle for a trip back to his parent's residence in another city, where carrying a firearm for safety was common. Our client had, at the last minute, placed the handgun on the front floor of his vehicle, intending to store it in the trunk. A call from the medical school for the student to return briefly to campus distracted the student, causing him to forget about the firearm. Campus security had noticed the firearm on the floor when routinely inspecting vehicles for items in unlocked cars that thieves might steal. The weapons possession charge followed. Our client also faced university discipline influenced by the outcome of the criminal charges. Our approach involved a constitutional defense against unreasonable search, a lack of intent defense, and a lack of safety or security risk under the circumstances. The prosecutor proposed dismissal of the charge on the sole condition that our client relinquishes the weapon to his parents for their safekeeping during the remainder of our client's medical program. Our client gladly accepted the offer. No school charges resulted.

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