Gunshot Residue Testing In A California Criminal Case
Over the course of the last twenty-five years, I’ve handled a lot of gunshot residue issues. I’ve cross-examined experts. I’ve looked into these issues, and basically, when you’re talking about gunshot residue, you’re talking about a weapon being fired and then the police either testing the person or their clothes, or some inanimate object like a car or some other object to see if there’s gunshot residue.
When a weapon is fired, the powder ignites and it shoots out gunshot residue and a lot of times that will get on people. That becomes relevant, for example, I’ve seen them test people’s hands for gunshot residue or their clothes for gunshot residue in these Los Angeles criminal cases and that’s important stuff.
Firearm Crimes Are Aggressively Prosecuted in California
When you’re talking about firing weapons in criminal cases, you’re talking about many years in prison, so the authorities will take the extra time and effort to try to get that person who they think fired a weapon.
What they do is bag the person’s hand and have an expert come and swab and test for gunshot residue. If they can find that that person was in the environment where a weapon was fired, now they have a good argument that they may have been the ones that fired the weapon.
So, this is important evidence. Just like the defense can argue – if the guy fired the weapon, you guys tested his hands and clothes for gunshot residue – did you find anything? If the answer is no, you have a good argument he or she is not the one who fired the weapon, and therefore, they didn’t commit the crime.
So, gunshot residue experts and testimony on this subject matter where you have a gun case where people are alleged to have been using or firing weapons is real important stuff and you have to get in front of a good criminal defense attorney immediately. If you have one of these cases, have an expert evaluate things and do things the right way.
Real Case Example in Norwalk Courthouse
I had a case a number of years ago in the Norwalk Court. It was a shooting in a bar and my client, along with two brothers, were arrested. My client admitted that he fired the weapon, but obviously he said he fired it in self-defense and then he handed it to one of the co-defendants.
These two brothers both got tested along with my client to see if there was any gunshot residue. Both the brothers had gunshot residue on their hands and their clothing and my client had no gunshot residue on his hands or his clothing.
That really made the jury think about my client’s involvement as far as firing the weapon, because it was clear from the surrounding facts that only two people fired the weapon and they believed it was the brothers that fired the weapon.
If they were the ones that fired the weapons, my client was going to be found not guilty, even though he admitted under Miranda that he had fired the weapon under some circumstances that would have been self-defense.
The jury ended up coming back not guilty. This case was in Norwalk Superior Court. My client was charged with murder and it was a not guilty verdict. I’m telling you right now, that gunshot residue was one of the big pieces of evidence that saved my client – that he didn’t have any gunshot residue on his hands or on his clothes – I believe that’s one of the big reasons the jury found him not guilty.
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