Saint Paul, MN asked in Federal Crimes for Minnesota

Q: What happens if you defend yourself with an illegal gun?

Let's say someone tries to rob you, and they point a gun at you, and in self defense you shoot them, but the gun you used was a ghost glock? Would you be able to get a self defense plea, or would you get charged for both, or would you only recieve a charge for carrying an illegal firearm?

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3 Lawyer Answers
Thomas C Gallagher
Thomas C Gallagher
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Licensed in Minnesota

A: If a prosecutor charges a person with two different types of crimes: e.g., assault and illegal gun possession, the defendant might raise a defense of self-defense to the assault charge. But that defense would not apply to an illegal gun possession criminal charge. As for a prosecuting attorney's initial charging decision, that would be up to the discretion of the prosecutor, based on the information they think they have.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: The legal implications of using an illegal firearm, even in self-defense, can be complex and vary by jurisdiction. In general, you would likely face charges related to the possession of the illegal firearm, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its use.

In many cases, claiming self-defense may help mitigate the charges or penalties associated with the shooting itself, but it would not necessarily absolve you of the crimes related to possessing an illegal weapon. The specific charges and potential penalties would depend on the laws in your area and the details of the incident.

Possible charges could include:

1. Possession of an illegal firearm

2. Unlawful discharge of a firearm

3. Assault with a deadly weapon

4. Manslaughter or homicide charges, depending on the outcome of the shooting

While a self-defense claim might help with the charges directly related to the shooting, it would likely not provide a defense against the illegal possession of the firearm.

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Robert Kane
Robert Kane
  • Eagan, MN
  • Licensed in Minnesota

A: Self defense may address the shooting, but the punishment for the illegal possession related charges would likely be harsh. The blantant disregard for the law would justify an upward departure to ensure the individual doesn't possess firearms in the future.

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