The Suffolk County Firearms Priority Disposition Session (often referred to as Gun Court) was created in 2006 as a way to eliminate the backlog of cases and expedite the process of prosecuting cases related to firearms. In addition, proponents of Gun Court argue that it has helped in the reduction of gun violence.
The idea to develop a streamlined process for prosecuting defendants arrested on gun charges (as well as other charges that came out of the same incident) was developed by Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Prior to the development of Gun Court, gun cases took about one year (and often longer) to resolve.
Gun Court involves a special set of court proceedings that address illegal or unlicensed firearms possession cases. Defendants are arraigned in the appropriate district court, but then their case is immediately transferred to the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department, where Gun Court is held. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office then expedites the processing of ballistics or other forensic evidence.
The goal of this is to streamline the process related to the prosecution of gun possession charges (as well as any charges arising out of the same incident). Initially, the goal was to complete the entire process (from arraignment to disposition of the case) within 180 days. By doing so, the Gun Court hoped to decrease the incidents of gun violence. Prior to the inception of Gun Court, cases took long periods of time and, once bail was posted, individuals arrested for gun charges were back on the street. This leads to additional incidents related to gun violence.
These specialized firearm sessions are held at the Lynn District Court. Presently, the goal is to hold pretrial hearings within 45 days of arraignment and for the case to be resolved within 120 days. The ability to hold these sessions is the result of a collaborative effort between the District Attorney, Trial Court, and Boston Police Department.
According to a report that studied Gun Court from 2006 to 2009, the average number of days for prosecuting cases was 158. The conviction rate (which includes all charges arising out of the same gun-related incident) is around 85% In the development of Gun Court, a Gun Prosecution Task Force was formed, which obtained the first conviction related to firearms based in part on thermal imaging technology.
The report also indicated that gun-related violence had declined over the period studied. Gun Court was cited as being at least partially responsible, though the following factors also contributed to the decline:
More intelligent and focused work by the police;
Legislation enabling law enforcement efforts; and
Community-based anti-violence efforts.
Defend Your Rights
Charges related to firearms are serious and carry with them significant penalties. As the above indicates, these charges are aggressively pursued by prosecutors. If you have been charged with a firearms offense, is it important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To set up a free case evaluation with Boston criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari, call our office at 617-942-1532.