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Drug-linked firearms cases: primer for prosecutors Wulff, Paula. Drug-Linked Firearms Cases: A Primer for Prosecutors, American Prosecutors Research Institute,

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Presentation on theme: "Drug-linked firearms cases: primer for prosecutors Wulff, Paula. Drug-Linked Firearms Cases: A Primer for Prosecutors, American Prosecutors Research Institute,"— Presentation transcript:

1 drug-linked firearms cases: primer for prosecutors Wulff, Paula. Drug-Linked Firearms Cases: A Primer for Prosecutors, American Prosecutors Research Institute, May 2005.

2 identifying the problem Virtually everyone who deals in drugs or drug money has at least a handgun. Stash houses and laboratories are arsenals. Americas Longest Running War

3 linkage of drugs / firearms 1. firearms protect drug shipments / intimidate witnesses / collect debts / control turf / resolve disputes / silence informers / reward informers 2. protection of drug purchasers 3. commit crimes to get money for drugs 4. commit crimes under influence 5. used as a medium of exchange for drugs / vice versa 6. trafficked along same routes / same people

4 firearms for protection 1. protect drugs / money 2. deals: outside / poor- ly lit areas / little protec- tion 3. drug arrests spike: 1 / 15 of month – pay / govt checks tax refund time

5 retaliation 1. unable to seek relief in court 2. justice in court of last resort 3. rise quicker in gangs 4. 33% of inmates under age 25 – used a gun at least once

6 preservation / competition: turf 1. better weapons discourages competition 2. timely payment by subordinates / custom- ers 3. arrested subordina- tes less likely to talk 4. keep all people in line

7 gang involvement 1. drug money funds gangs 2. protect drug income 3. protect their turf 4. 33% of gang members carry firearms

8 project safe neighborhoods 1. federal initiative to integrate federal, state & local assets 2. deter / punish gun crime 3. allows individual federal / state / local assets to protect their own areas 4. sharing data 5. use both existing federal / state

9 state vs. federal prosecution protocol for prosecuting drug cases federally 1. state / local police report 2. criminal records (include juvenile) 3. personal info / aliases / gang 4. toxicology / pharmacology 5. witnesses 6. photos / video 7. warrants / search warrants 8. inventory / chain of custody / evidence

10 practical tips for prosecutors in drug- related firearms cases 1. chain-of-custody issues: drugs / guns / paraphernalia 2. confidential informants: protect identify / watch their motives / discovery could jeopar- dize safety 3. Witness intimidation 4. using expert witnesses / prosecution / defense

11 voir dire questions for gun-related drug cases determining jurors attitude about guns: 1. what do you think when you hear firearm? 2. what do you think when you hear weapon? 3. what do you think when you hear (slang word for gun – rod)? 4. Do you understand the charges against defendant?

12 voir dire for drug-related gun charges determine jurors knowledge of guns 1. Do you own a firearm(s)? 2. Did you ever own a firearm? 3. If so, how many? 4. If you have or do, what kind is it? 5. Why did you get rid of it?

13 voir dire for drug-related cases jurors knowledge of firearms: 6. purchase it / gift 7. why did you purchase it 8. if for protection, why 9. have you ever taken a safety course 10. first firearm at what age 11. is juror a hunter

14 voir dire questions for drug-related gun cases final two questions: 12. Do you understand there is nothing illegal about the responsible, licensed use of a firearm? 2. Do you understand the defendant is on trial for the illegal use of a weapon?


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