Most people in Mecklenburg County are very protective of their gun rights and very supportive of gun ownership in general. Conversely, authorities are unforgiving about the presence of guns in any sort of criminal context, meaning defendants should expect serious prosecution for firearm-related charges.
If you are facing firearms charges or believe that you are the subject of law enforcement scrutiny, an experienced lawyer could help with the nuances of Mecklenburg gun investigations and evidence. Without legal assistance, you could risk self-incrimination or other mistakes that might harm your case.
Usually, a person will encounter a law enforcement investigation of a gun crime in the context of a search of their person or vehicle. Very often, law enforcement is looking for guns and drugs and may find both. Law enforcement officers usually take the initial step of running a criminal background check on an individual to determine whether they are able to possess a firearm legally.
They will also look to see whether the firearm has been reported as stolen. If the serial number is missing from the firearm to prevent it from being identified, that fact alone could make a gun illegal. It is important that an individual know their rights whenever they are going to have a gun on them so that if they do encounter law enforcement, they will not be liable for a crime.
If police officers have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, they can inspect a person to see if they are in possession of a firearm. Similarly, if law enforcement has reason to believe that a person is armed and dangerous or that the safety of the police officer is in jeopardy, they are entitled to search a person for a firearm. Furthermore, they may search the person if that individual gives their consent.
Of course, anytime somebody gives police officers consent to search their cars, those officers can search for firearms. Most searches are the result of a driver consenting to a search, so it is important for drivers to understand that they do not have to consent to one. If a driver does not give police consent to search their car, the officers can only search with a warrant or if they have specific probable cause of a crime having been committed at a specific time.
In Mecklenburg, the most common type of evidence collected in a gun investigation is the firearm itself—or the item that is alleged to be a gun. Other types of evidence may include anything that could relate to another crime occurring with a gun, such as drugs or evidence of a criminal or violent act.
Authorities will gather physical evidence by searching a vehicle, the individual, or the surrounding area of the crime scene. Police will also collect witness statements by interviewing anybody who may have been present at the time.
A person should call a lawyer as soon as they know or suspect that they are the subject of a firearms investigation. Individuals have a constitutional right to an attorney to help deal with even basic Mecklenburg gun investigations and evidence.
When conducting an independent investigation, an experienced defense attorney will focus on not only the evidence itself, but also on all of the ways that they can question that evidence. For instance, a defense attorney will examine whether the item in question is an actual firearm and whether there are constitutional issues that can be raised about how the alleged firearm was discovered.
The earlier an attorney is involved in the criminal process, the more likely you will receive the best possible outcome, which could include dismissal by the judge. Therefore, if you are under investigation, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.