In New York City, one of the most serious offenses is criminal possession of a weapon as laid out in article 265 of the New York Penal Law. While there is some flexibility in the law when it comes to punishment, this crime is often regarded as a criminal offense and is penalized with mandatory minimums terms of incarceration.
Criminal possession of a knife or switchblade is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail. However, possessing a loaded firearm in a place other than your home or your business without having the proper licenses is a felony and will result in a minimum of 3 and a half years in prison. This is true even for a person who has no prior criminal record.
The situation becomes even more serious for individuals who have guns or other weapons at an airport in New York City, on a public street, or in a vehicle that has four additional passengers. There are strict liability standards and other laws concerning possession that can make it difficult for an individual possessing a gun in these circumstances to defend themselves in court.
Even if an individual argues that their pistol or rifle was in a secured case, that it was not loaded, and that it was concealed, prosecutors can still argue that since the ammunition was in the vicinity of the gun and capable of being put in the gun, you are guilty of possessing a loaded weapon. As a result, something that otherwise would have been a misdemeanor offense is now a felony.
What is surprising to many is that they could be charged with a weapon related crime, even if the object they were holding at the time of their arrest is not normally used as a weapon. For example, a frying pan is not normally used as a weapon. However, if at the time of the arrest or if during the circumstances leading up to the arrest officers have reason to believe that you used the object in a threatening manner, or if you actually used the pan to assault another individual, you could be facing weapons charges.
The deadlier the weapon, the more severe the charges may be. Possessing an assault weapon, a military style automatic or semi-automatic weapon, or other automatic weapons will almost always result in a felony charge. Additionally, in New York City, if an individual is found in possession of a pistol magazine that is capable of holding more than 10 rounds, they may face felony charges.
It is clear to see that New York has very serious and strict laws when it comes to illegal weapons possessions. An individual accused of this crime can find their life turned upside down in a matter of seconds. It is difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to defend themselves against this serious charges. For this reason, anyone who is being accused of criminal possession of a weapon in New York should immediately speak to our criminal defense lawyers.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Defend against a Weapons Crime Charge
There are many tools that criminal defense attorneys can use to defend the client who has been accused of a weapons crime charge. First, they can question whether the search that turned up the weapon was conducted in a legal manner. Did the police officer have the warranties needed to conduct the search? Did they have a legal right to conduct a search?
Next, they can investigate the arresting officer’s story. Are there inconsistencies in the testimony the officer gave? Does the story add up with the facts?
Defense attorneys can examine the weapon. If it was a knife or a gun, was it operable? A defense attorney can provide the prosecution with extenuating circumstances and other mitigating factors that might get the case thrown out of court or at least assist you in making a deal with the prosecutor.
At the law offices of Raiser & Kenniff, we have more than 30 years of combined experience defending New York residents against weapons charges. Our attorneys include former assistant district attorneys. Our firm was founded by New York prosecutors and so we understand how to handle criminal cases from every single angle. We stick by our clients throughout the entire process and we guarantee them the strongest defense possible.