Criminal Defense Attorney - Weapons Offenses
To successfully defend against criminal charges in St. Johns County you need a St. Augustine criminal defense attorney with courtroom experience. Attorney Christy Opsahl is a former prosecutor with extensive trial experience. She handles a variety of criminal offenses including misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile delinquency.
Ms. Opsahl has experience handling cases with a variety of sentencing enhancements, such as Habitual Felony Offender (HFO), Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO), Violent Career Criminals, 10-20-Life, and Prison Releasee Reoffenders (PRR).
Weapons offenses are typically coupled with other offenses such as assault or battery, drug offenses, domestic abuse, and sexual offenses. Many times the use or possession of a weapon will enhance the potential penalty of a crime or create minimum mandatory penalties under the law removing discretion from the trial judge when imposing sentence. The possession or use of a weapon can enhance a misdemeanor offense to a felony offense affecting your constitutional rights as well as increasing your exposure to incarceration.
Possession or Use of a Weapon as an enhancement will require the State to prove separate and distinct evidence aside from the underlying charge. It is important to hire an attorney familiar with the statutory enhancements that weapons trigger, and experience with the legal defenses that often accompany weapons offenses. These defenses include self-defense and Stand Your Ground immunity. These defenses may be absolute defenses meaning you cannot be charged with the particular crime, or they may be affirmative defenses that are factors to be determined by a jury that would require going to trial. Both types of defense require in-depth legal analysis into the facts of the case and knowledge of the implication of the applicable laws.
Firearms have their own distinct set of laws that can trigger minimum mandatory sentences if used or possessed in the commission of a crime. A minimum mandatory is a defined minimum period of incarceration that a judge must impose if convicted of a crime involving a firearm. This requires a separate finding of proof by a jury or fact finder. Minimum mandatory sentences may affect any gain time or good behavior credit given while incarcerated. It is crucial that your case is analyzed by an experienced attorney who understands the ramifications of a minimum mandatory sentence on your disposition and has the ability to decipher any defenses that may remove the imposition of a minimum mandatory sentence. Possession of a firearm, discharge of a firearm, and discharge causing great bodily harm are all factual determinations that may trigger a minimum mandatory sentence being imposed.
Crimes involving firearms often involve forensic evidence that needs to be examined. The operability of the firearm, ballistics, gunshot residue, blood spatter, and projectile trajectory are all evidentiary issues arising in cases involving firearms. Hire an attorney with experience in all of these areas to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
Christy has experience on both sides of the law as a former prosecutor and defense attorney to guide you through the risks and rewards of plea negotiations, motion practice, and taking your case to trial. Firearm and weapons offenses have unique legal and factual issues that need to be analyzed by an attorney familiar with these investigations, forensic evidence, constitutional issues, discovery, and with jury trial experience in this area of law.