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DC Self Defense With Guns

DC has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.  Prosecutors routinely charge law abiding citizens with CPWL (carrying pistol without a license) and other charges due to failure to register firearms.

But what happens if you possess a firearm because you're defending yourself?  

The Court of Appeals recently tackled this issue in Evans v. United States No. 19-CF-0511.  You can find that decision HERE.

In Evans, the defendant grabbed a gun because other people were shooting at him.  One of Evan's friends was even killed in the shootout.  Evans grabbed a gun and fired back, killing someone. Evans was charged with first-degree murder while armed, D.C. Code §§ 22-2101, -4502, and -3611; second-degree murder while armed, D.C. Code §§ 22-2103, -4502; possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, D.C. Code § 22-4504(b); and possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a crime punishable
by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year (felon in possession, or FIP), D.C. Code § 22-4503(a)(1), (b)(1). He was also charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, in violation of D.C. Code § 22-722(a)(2)(A), (a)(6).

The Court of Appeals then affirmed some rules about your right to self defense.  They held that "The right of self-defense allows a person to use lethal force if they reasonably believe that they are in danger of death or serious bodily injury. Dawkins v. United States,
189 A.3d 223, 232 (D.C. 2018). 

As for Evans and the gun, the Court of Appeals further held that "one who obtains a firearm only because of a need for self-defense cannot reasonably be expected to drop it like a hot potato the moment they recognize that the threat on their life has ceased."

If you've been charged with a gun crime, preserving your self defense rights are very important.  Don't assume a prosecutor will just believe you if you say "it was self defense."  Call us today to discuss your case if you have a self defense situation.

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