A penalty enhancement is a fact or circumstance in a criminal case that requires penalties to be increased for the underlying offense. Common examples of Mecklenburg County gun penalty enhancements may include someone who possesses a gun in a gun-free zone or someone facing gun charges who already has a prior violent felony conviction.
The possibility of enhancements will affect how a criminal defense lawyer proceeds with the case because if the person is found guilty of a crime, they face more serious consequences. It is important for those charged with firearm offenses consult with an attorney to determine how these elevations to charges might influence their case.
Many felonies carry the possibility of penalty enhancements if a firearm is used in their commission, including robbery, murder, and other serious crimes. The most typical penalty elevation for crimes involving firearms is additional prison time—whether the crime is an additional criminal charge or an additional punishment for the firearm charge itself.
Distributing a firearm to somebody who is not allowed to have one, including a minor, could also be an aggravating factor that impacts the severity of penalties. Similarly, the presence of a stolen gun during the commission of a criminal offense, or a gun that has been illegally modified, could lead to enhancements. However, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer may be able to challenge these aggravating factors during a sentencing hearing.
Many defenses might be available to a person facing penalty enhancements involving firearms, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of their case. For example, an experienced defense attorney may question whether a defendant was actually in possession of a certain firearm during the commission of a separate offense. A lawyer may also argue that a certain item does not actually qualify as a firearm in the context of the case, such as the use of an airsoft gun in the commission of another crime.
It is important that the person consults with a legal professional as soon as possible so they can immediately begin preparing an effective defense strategy. The prosecution has the burden of proving factors that could lead to a penalty enhancement. If a defense attorney is able to poke holes in the prosecution’s evidence and cause the judge or jury to question their validity, prosecutors might be less willing to pursue a lengthened sentence.
All gun charges are serious criminal charges with dire consequences, and penalty enhancements could make them all the more grave. Because many offenses in Mecklenburg County could involve a gun or the threat of a gun, firearm-related enhancements are among the most common factors in determining a criminal sentence.
Do not let a Mecklenburg County gun penalty enhancement go unchallenged. An experienced firearms attorney could investigate the facts of the case, negotiate with prosecutors, and build an effective defense strategy to maintain your freedom to the fullest extent possible. If you are facing charges, do not hesitate to reach out today.