Recently, a defendant in Virginia appealed his firearm convictions by arguing that the trial court should not have allowed evidence of a 911 call to be part of the Commonwealth’s case. According to the defendant, the call was not properly authenticated, and thus it was improperly admitted. Disagreeing with the defendant, the higher court denied the appeal and kept the original convictions in place.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend called 911 one day in November 2020 to report that the defendant had fired a shot outside her house. The ex-girlfriend said that the defendant had used a silver and brown-looking gun and that he had shot at her car approximately two minutes before the call. The ex-girlfriend also reported that the defendant had been convicted of felonies in the past, as well as that he was angry because the pair had recently broken up.
Eventually, police officers were able to track down the defendant at a nearby hotel. The officers saw the defendant’s car and noticed a live round of ammunition in the driver’s seat. They also seized a backpack that the defendant had been carrying, in which they found a few live .25 caliber rounds.
The defendant was charged and later convicted of one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of reckless handling of a firearm, and one count of discharging a firearm in public. The defendant appealed his guilty verdict.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the 911 call should not have been used as evidence against him at trial. All evidence, said the defendant, must be authenticated. This means that the court must be sure that the evidence is what the parties claim it is before considering the evidence as part of the case. Here, the defendant took issue with the fact that the court quickly admitted the 911 call without ensuring it was an authentic recording of a call that actually took place.
The court considered this argument but eventually denied it. There was no dispute, said the court, that this recording of a 911 call was public record. The Commonwealth provided a witness that testified as to the authenticity of the call: the custodian of 911 calls for the county took the stand and stated that the recording was a true and accurate copy of the call that took place in November 2020.
According to the court, this method of authentication was sufficient. The recording did not require any additional testimony, and thus it was admissible into evidence.
Thus, the defendant’s appeal was denied.
Are You Facing Firearm Charges in Fairfax County?
At Robinson Law, PLLC, we take the time to familiarize ourselves with each client’s case and circumstances so that we can properly advise on the best steps moving forward. If you have been charged with a firearm offense in the Commonwealth, the best thing you can do for yourself is speak with a qualified, knowledgeable attorney that can walk you through your various options. We pride ourselves on being experts in Virginia criminal law, and we promise to use our expertise to fight your charges to the best of our ability. We handle cases related to a wide range of crimes, including assault and battery, drugs, guns, domestic violence, and DUIs. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 703-542-3616.