If Someone Commits a Crime With My Gun, Am I Liable?
You have just discovered that someone used your gun while committing a crime. Your worries now center on one thing only: How deep is my involvement, and can law enforcement punish me for this?
The answer hinges largely on several factors that include the identity of the other person. The state of Nevada prohibits certain classes of individuals from having possession of a firearm. If you knew that the person to whom you loaned the gun was a drug user; an addict; a fugitive from justice; an illegal immigrant; or mentally ill, the law could hold you responsible.
Other questions to consider include:
- Were you aware that the person who borrowed your gun was a known ex-felon? In Nevada, it is illegal to intentionally sell, give, loan, provide, donate or in any other manner transfer a firearm to a convicted felon. The punishment for this crime consists of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of between $3,000 and $5,000.
- Did the other person steal your gun? If inadequate preventative measures on your part paved the way for a thief to make off with your firearm that he later used to commit an infraction, you could be guilty of a citizen-assisted crime. However, if the thief later used your weapon to harm or kill another individual, the courts will not hold you civilly responsible for having contributed to what many would view as an unforeseeable action.
- Were you aware of what the person who borrowed your firearm was going to do with it? If you knew that he or she meant to use it in the commission of a crime, you could be guilty of aiding and abetting. On the other hand, charges of constructive possession could be your reward if you knew of the gun’s physical location and could have exercised some measure of control and authority over its use.
- Was the person to whom you loaned the firearm the last one you’d suspect of getting into trouble? It might not be a problem for you if the friend is licensed to carry the type of firearm you loaned him and you honestly had no idea of what he intended to do with it.
- Did you know that your gun’s recipient was a minor? The laws do differ from one state to another, but in Nevada, anyone who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly provides a child with a firearm of any type is breaking the law.
Complicity and Accomplice Liability
If you either encourage or actively assist someone who engages in the commission of a crime, the law will consider you an accomplice or one who is guilty of complicity. Another term for this is aiding and abetting, and even though you yourself have not actually committed the crime, your actions made the perpetrator’s job a little easier. Therefore, the law will treat you as equally guilty and worthy of the same degree of punishment as is the actual culprit. However, much depends on whether you deliberately and voluntarily encouraged or assisted the perpetrator or if you knew of his planned criminal activity but did nothing to prevent it.
To prove you guilty of accomplice liability, the prosecutor must be able to prove:
- That someone other than you committed a crime.
- That you either encouraged, counseled, aided or commanded the culprit to do it.
- That your actions in this regard were both knowing and deliberate.
There are numerous ways in which a person can serve as accomplice in the commission of a criminal offense. Chief among them is the simple act of loaning a firearm to the eventual perpetrator. If in addition to providing the gun you have also played an active role in planning the crime, the law can charge you with conspiracy regardless of whether the planned crime did or did not take place.
If someone has used one of your firearms in the commission of a crime, you could find yourself in serious difficulty. It’s important to speak with a criminal defense attorney before you do anything else. The criminal lawyers at Weiner Law Group will take the time to review the facts of your case, inform you of your potential defenses and answer any questions you may have. Don’t let what may have been an innocent mistake wreak havoc with your future. Call Weiner Law Group at 702-202-0500 for a free consultation today.