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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

The Prosecution’s Burden of Proof in Philadelphia Gun Possession Cases

If you face gun possession charges, do not risk appearing in court alone. A skilled defense attorney could argue that the prosecution’s burden of proof in Philadelphia gun possession cases has not been met. They could carefully analyze all the evidence against you and fight tirelessly for a positive outcome to your case. Call today to get started.

Actual Versus Constructive Possession of a Firearm

In most cases, in order for an individual to be charged with possession of a weapon, the individual may have actual possession of that weapon through evidence offered by the district attorney’s office that is beyond reasonable doubt. However, an individual who does not have actual possession of the weapon at the time of arrest could still face charges.

This scenario most often occurs when the accused is arrested a number of days after the alleged crime took place. At the time of the arrest, there is no firearm recovered from the individual. However, the initial complaint was that the person committed a felony offense with the use of a firearm. In that case, the Commonwealth need not prove at the time of arrest that the person had an actual possession of the firearm. Instead, they would show evidence that the accused had possession of the firearm at the time of the commission of the crime.

Constructive Possession

Constructive possession of a firearm means an individual knew or should have known that the firearm was in a particular place and knew or should have known they would have otherwise had exclusive dominion and control over such firearm. In these cases, an individual may still be convicted of a firearm offense without actual possession. However, constructive possession is much more difficult to prove by the district attorney’s office beyond reasonable doubt.

What the Prosecution Needs to Prove

In order to secure a conviction for firearm possession charges, the prosecution has to prove that the person had actual or constructive possession of the firearm. For actual possession cases, the Commonwealth needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person actually had contact with the item in question, such as a firearm or other weapon used during the commission of a crime. In possessory actual offenses, the Commonwealth could use live testimony from police officers, eyewitnesses, or any other evidence such as videos to prove that an individual actually had visible possession of the firearm.

Cases involving constructive possession are a much more difficult hurdle for the Commonwealth to meet. The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person had control or should have had control, and had knowledge or should have had knowledge of the firearm being present. Actual physical control is not enough. In either scenario, if the Commonwealth meets this burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a person could be convicted of such offenses.

Role of a Philadelphia Gun Possession Attorney

A defense attorney in Philadelphia with decades of experience could challenge the Commonwealth’s evidence. They could carefully scrutinize the perception of witnesses, videos, or any other forms of evidence that is used against individuals involved in actual or constructive firearm possession cases. If the prosecution’s burden of proof in Philadelphia gun possession cases is not met, they could fight for an acquittal. An experienced defense attorney has the abilities, the resources, and the means to make those arguments, which often lead to a very successful defense.