More and more I see these cases being prosecuted in the Airport or LAX court where people are going into the airport and somehow getting caught with a gun, either at the metal detector, or just in general anywhere where you're going to board a plane.
Obviously, having a gun makes the authorities that you're going to do something really bad, and especially remembering 9-11 and all the security precautions that were put in place. They're very harsh on these cases. They take no chances.
Even if you say it's a mistake they don't care. They're going to arrest you. They're going to prosecute you and they're going to send you into the LAX courthouse to deal with the case and I've dealt with a lot of these cases. Possession of a gun at the airport is defined under California Penal Code 171.5.
I will tell you this, most of the cases are prosecuted by the City Attorney's office because most of them are usually prosecuted as misdemeanors and the City Attorney's office has a very strict, vicious policy when it comes to illegal gun possession. They will not let these cases go. They're very difficult to deal with.
Defenses for Possession of a Gun at the Airport
One defense that you definitely have in a possession of a gun case at the Airport is that you didn't realize the gun was there. I mean, that is a legitimate defense, and the reason I say that is if you look at the jury instruction for this particular charge that's going to be given to the jury.
They are the ones who's going to have to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of possessing a gun at the LAX Airport, what you see is that you have to have some knowledge that you have the gun. It's very clear.
I have a lot of clients who go in there and don't realize they have the gun for various reasons. So, the jurors are going to look at all the surrounding circumstances in deciding whether or not you knew you had this particular gun.
So, you have to come in and sit down and we'll go over all of the facts and details and I'll give you a pretty good feel for what your chances might be going to trial depending on the circumstances as to why you had the gun.
You have to realize that jurors go on planes too, so they don't want people with guns on planes and if it looks like you're going to do anything sinister or bad on the plane, they're definitely going to want to convict you.
So, you really have to have a good reason for why you had the gun, why you didn't realize you had the gun, and I would say in a case like that, you're going to probably have to testify. They're not just going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
They don't want people on planes either with guns because they have to ride these planes and they realize the police, the judges, the prosecutors are just trying to protect the public with these gun laws.
Review of Evidence to Determine Best Strategy
So, what I have you do is have you come in and we sit down and talk about everything related to why you have that gun and what evidence we have that you didn't know that you had the gun.
Then I'm also going to assess what type of a witness you might make — whether they can get any bad evidence in against you. We'll sit down and talk about that, and then I'm going to talk to the prosecutors.
I will say my client did not know that he or she had a gun with them and then I'm going to listen to what the prosecutor says because that's usually going to bring out their best argument.
They're going to say well, we think they did know and here's why, and now I can go back to you and say okay, if the case goes to trial, here is the evidence they're going to bring to bear to show that you knew that you had a gun or you should have reasonably known under the circumstances.
And if that looks like it's going to be believable evidence then you're probably not going to want to go to trial.
Contact our Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers
So, if you have one of these cases — whether you're innocent or your guilty — you need an attorney, because even if you're guilty you want to do everything you can to stay out of jail to protect all of your freedoms and protect your criminal record and a whole host of other things.
So, pick up the phone. Ask to get a meeting with Ron Hedding. I'll sit down with you and use my 26 years of experience, my connections with the DA's office, the City Attorney's office and I'll do everything I can to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.