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Drug-Linked Firearms Cases: A Primer for Prosecution

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2005
44 pages
This publication is intended to help State and local prosecutors who are inexperienced in prosecuting drug-linked firearm cases in assessing, preparing, and prosecuting such cases in State or Federal court.
After examining the link between illegal drugs and firearms crime, this guide identifies some of the fundamental issues a State prosecutor must consider in evaluating the merits of retaining the case for local prosecution or referring it for Federal prosecution. It favors the strategies proposed by Project Safe Neighborhoods, which integrates Federal, State, and local prosecution leaders, as well as law enforcement and community leaders in the aggressive targeting of gun crime. The program provides a multifaceted approach to deterring and punishing gun crime through existing State and Federal laws. Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, Federal, State, and local prosecutors and law enforcement officials work together to determine which forum would yield the most appropriate punishment for an offender who is in possession of firearms and drugs. Careful screening of drug-related firearms cases will enable prosecutors to determine the best forum in which to proceed. Guidelines are provided for case screening, and State and Federal procedures are compared for the processing of such cases. Practical tips for prosecutors pertain to chain of custody, confidential informants, the management of lay witnesses, specialized voir dire (jury selection), and using expert witnesses. Appended sample questions for qualifying various types of expert witnesses and a list of resources

Date Published: May 1, 2005