The Massachusetts Appeals Court today overturned the conviction of a Dorchester man whom a jury found guilty of possession of a loaded firearm without a license after acquitting him of illegal possession of a gun and ammunition for the same 2012 incident in Dorchester.
In its ruling, the court said that a loaded-firearm conviction is predicated on a illegal-possession conviction, that legally, you can't have the former without the latter.
The ruling describes the incident at a festival that led to the man's arrest:
An unknown passerby stopped a Boston police officer, stated that "a man had a gun," and pointed to a small group of black males, which included the defendant, walking down the street away from the parade. Officers then began to follow and surveil that group. At one point, when the defendant was near a parked vehicle, one of the officers, who was on the opposite side of the street, observed the defendant, who was walking at a fast pace, "[s]low down a little bit" next to the vehicle, and heard a noise that, based on his experience, was consistent with a gun hitting the pavement. The two other males from the group were about ten to fifteen feet away from the defendant at that time. After stopping the group to ask questions, the police canvassed the immediate area. A loaded firearm was recovered from beneath the parked vehicle, and the defendant was arrested.
In its ruling, the court said that the law on loaded firearms was clearly meant as a way to additionally punish somebody convicted of possession of a gun, because it includes the phrase "shall be further punished" by additional time behind bars after a person is convicted of simple illegal possession.