I was charged with stealing a firearm, but I bought it from a guy

"I was charged with stealing a firearm. I actually bought the gun from a guy my cousin knows." I had no idea where it came from or that the gun was even stolen. I just needed something for protection."

From this scenario it seems likely that the sale -- while unconventional perhaps -- was perfectly legal. In an unconventional sale there is not likely to be a paper trial showing that you were a bona fide purchaser, such as a receipt or bill of sale. The problem is that the person who sold you the firearm either stole it recently or got it from somebody who did. The person who sold it to you might not even have known it was stolen.

Depending on where the gun was reported stolen from could be an important factor in defending the case. The prosecutor must prove that you had possession of a recently stolen firearm in order to create an inference that you were the person who stole it.

The factual defense of being a bona fide purchaser can be used if there is a paper trial documenting the purchase. A legal defense is also potentially available -- attacking how the prosecutor intends to prove that the firearm was actually stolen and when it was stolen. Frequently prosecutors will take a shortcut in the proof of the case, particularly in proving that the firearm was actually stolen and when, which the alert defense attorney can use to break open or even to beat the case.

If you are in this situation and would like to speak with an attorney, please feel free to contact my office to arrange for a free consultation.

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"This page is not an advertisement; it is a blog. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of attorney Robert Lorey. The purpose of these articles is to inform the public regarding various issues involving the criminal justice system and should not be construed to suggest a similar outcome in any other case. The outcome of any case depends on a myriad of factors which are well outside this blog post."

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