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Firearms, Knives And Weapons Possession Crimes: New York Penal Law Article 265

You can face significant punishment from state and local authorities if you’re convicted of possession of a weapon, whether it’s a dangerous instrument or a deadly weapon. You could go to jail or suffer other collateral consequences, including the revocation of your professional license or immigration status.

If you are facing these charges it’s important to understand the scope of issue and possible consequences. At Law Offices of Peter Katz I offer a free consultation so that you can discuss your matter and get the information you need to move forward in the way the serves your best interests. Call 609-900-2648 to set up a meeting with me.

Choosing not to challenge a Penal Law (PL) Article 265 case can have long-lasting implications for you and your family. With the help of an attorney with experience in weapon crimes, you can craft a defense tailored to your situation that looks at whether the police violated your constitutional rights and whether the government can use the evidence against you. A criminal conviction for a weapons possession on your record, along with many years behind bars, is exceptionally serious and must be treated seriously.

Definitions And Crimes

Prosecutors across New York state aggressively prosecute crimes involving weapons and other objects that can maim or kill. While each offense differs, the following definitions are helpful.

Deadly weapon: This category includes any loaded weapon from which a shot readily capable of producing death or serious physical injury may be discharged; a switchblade, gravity, pilum ballistic or metal knuckle knife; dagger; billy club; blackjack; plastic knuckles; or metal knuckles. These examples are known as “per se” weapons.

Dangerous instrument: This encompasses any instrument, article or substance – including a vehicle, depending on how it was used –  that is readily capable of causing death or another serious physical injury.

Bear in mind that you can violate numerous statutes in one alleged act, which routinely includes a charge of criminal possession of a weapon (CPW) in the fourth degree (PL Article 265 Section 265.01), third degree (PL Article 265 Section 265.02), second degree (PL Article 265 Section 265.03) and first degree (PL Article 265 Section 265.04).

Other crimes related to firearms are criminal possession of a firearm (PL Article 265 Section 265.01-b(1)), when the gun, revolver or pistol in question is unloaded.

Penalties And Punishment

An arrest or allegation under PL Article 265 or a CPW crime exposes you to the possibility of prison time ranging from a year to a steep mandatory minimum and maximum term sentence of seven, 15 or even 25 years. The idea of spending even the slightest amount of time in Rikers Island should be enough for you to reach out to a criminal defense attorney to protect you against these accusations.

Always keep in mind that if the statute defines the crime as a violent felony under PL Article 70 Section 70.02, no judge can seal your conviction, regardless of how long you remain free and seek to rectify your past transgressions.

New York Gun Charges

New York prosecutes firearm and gun crimes zealously and has some of the strictest possession laws in the country. New York treats these types of cases the same way it looks at violent assault and robbery crimes, meaning a potential conviction can have significant ramifications on your life. Thus, you must call legal counsel if you face a gun charge in New York as soon as possible to start preparing your defense. I am Peter Katz, an experienced gun crimes defense attorney. Call my law firm, the Law Offices of Peter Katz, at 609-900-2648 to speak with me and learn about your rights in a free initial consultation.

Severity Of Gun Charges

Even though the Second Amendment recognizes your right to bear arms, such freedom does not come without limitations. New York law requires you to have a license or permit to carry a firearm in the state. Carrying a gun without either of these things can lead you to state prison, facing a mandatory sentence even if you are a first-time offender.

Law enforcement and legislators take gun possession issues very seriously, given New York’s highly populated areas such as Midtown and Time Square. Similarly, having more guns on the street can lead to more crime, which could have negative consequences. Suppose a person has a loaded firearm outside of their home and place of business, and that pistol, revolver, assault rifle or similar weapon is loaded. In that case, they should expect the full force of a violent felony prosecution by the local district attorney’s office.

Legality Of Hunting In New York

Like carrying a firearm, New York permits hunting for those with proper permits. Long arms are not regulated and defined the same way as firearms. This distinction does not derive from the gun’s caliber. Instead, the size, type and nature of the firearm generally fill this gap. But just because you are hunting does not make the gun charge is any less severe, since the nature, type and use of the gun make it a felony.

Transporting Firearms Through New York

Throughout the state of New York, it is unlawful for a person to carry, possess or transport a handgun, pistol or any other firearm without a permit. Prosecutors commonly prosecute people for transporting firearms, as it is illegal for someone to travel throughout the state with their firearm. It is important to note that New York does not recognize reciprocity. While there are laws on the books protecting certain people in transit, they lack universal applicability and are strict, meaning police can still arrest you even if the charges eventually get dropped months later.

Felony Charges

Spending a night in New York while traveling to another state violates the law. When someone visits New York from Pennsylvania, Virginia or any state and decides to spend the evening in New York City or Rochester with a loaded firearm in their car, hotel, apartment or friend’s home, they face a Class C violent felony. In the event that the weapon is unloaded, the crime is a Class E felony of criminal possession of a firearm, as opposed to the more severe second degree CPW. Always keep in mind that the law’s definition of “loaded” is quite different than the term’s literal use. Even if the gun is unloaded, the state considers the weapon loaded if it is close to bullets and ammunition.

Transporting Ammunition And Firearms

When in New York, it is helpful to keep your firearm locked up and away from any ammunition. Bear in mind that even if you are merely traveling and stopped by the police, there is still a possibility that prosecutors will initiate an investigation of the incident.

Overall, if the firearm is readily accessible with ammunition nearby, it is a Class C violent felony if you also lack a New York gun license. Even though you might have a license or permit in another state, New York does not consider that sufficient. The information above is designed to provide information to those in a non-stop transit setting, though it can also serve those seeking to mitigate conduct. Reach out to an experienced gun lawyer today for more information.

New York City And State Gun Lawyer

New York City and New York state heavily regulate the possession, sale, transfer and manufacturing of firearms, making their laws some of the toughest in the country. It is not uncommon for someone arrested and charged with a gun-related offense to face a lengthy and severe prison sentence. Even if you avoid going to prison, there are still significant ramifications that can affect your employment, professional licenses and certifications, and immigration status.

While some might think that the Second Amendment protects them from any gun-related charges, they are mistaken. Regardless of the weapon you possessed, the offense is quite severe and calls for retaining legal counsel to answer your questions and craft a vigorous defense minimizing your involvement with the criminal justice system. Challenging the charges provides you with a sense of comfort, knowing that someone is advocating on your behalf and working to ensure that your future is secure.

New York Gun Laws: Strict Enforcement

New York PL Article 265 provides the definition of what precisely a firearm is under the law. This definition continues to evolve to include:

  • Pistol or revolver
  • Certain shotguns
  • Certain rifles
  • Modified shotguns and rifles
  • Assault weapons

Also included in this part of the code are New York’s possession laws and their various crimes. Common gun charges include:

  • Criminal possession of a firearm
  • Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds
  • Unlawful possession of weapons by a person under the age of 16
  • Criminal possession of a dangerous weapon
  • Criminal sale of a firearm
  • Criminal sale of a firearm with the aid of a minor
  • Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
  • Criminal purchase or disposal of a firearm
  • Criminal use of a firearm

If you experienced an arrest for a weapons charge or an appearance or desk appearance ticket for a lower-level offense, having to address the allegation is likely to cause you a great deal of angst. The possibility of imprisonment is enough to impact your personal and professional life negatively.

Potential Penalties: From Bad To Frighteningly Worse

Along with its reputation for strict gun laws, New York has a reputation for imposing harsh penalties. It is not uncommon to find under New York law mandatory prison sentences for first-time offenders and those with a history of unlawful possession. Here are some possible sentences:

  • Prison sentences: Dependent upon the severity, whether it is a misdemeanor or a Class B felony. Regardless of whether you had an out-of-state permit, if you have a loaded firearm, a judge must sentence you to a minimum of three and a half years to a maximum of 15 years upon conviction. Depending on the particular offense and degree, you could face a sentence of up to one year in jail for “lower” misdemeanors and up to 25 years for a Class B felony.
  • Fines: Prosecutors can ask the judge to impose steep fines for gun charges. Class A misdemeanor convictions can come with a fine of up to $1,000, and those convicted of more severe crimes, like a Class B felony, can face an even greater sum.

Along with a gun charge comes a stigma that can lead to denial of jobs, visa status and deportation and well as a criminal record.

Your Defense, Your Life, Your Future

PL Article 265 is unique in its enforcement and mandate of incarceration, regardless of whether you were traveling out of state in a car, an airport or a train, even if you have an out-of-state gun license. Experienced legal counsel can work to provide you with answers to your questions and concerns and help craft a strategy that respects your livelihood and defends your rights.

Gun Laws In New York

With New York’s ever-changing gun legislation, an experienced gun lawyer can properly ensure that your rights are protected. The law makes clear that an individual cannot possess a loaded or unloaded firearm in the state unless they have a license and permit. New York law mandates incarceration when a person possesses an unregistered or unlicensed firearm in the state, making it the state with some of the strictest firearm laws in the country.

Common Firearm Law Misconceptions

While the information provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airlines is helpful, individuals need to ensure that they know the laws of the visiting state. Just because one has a license to carry in Oklahoma does not mean that it governs in New York. This is where people find themselves involved with the criminal justice system and fear for their careers, family and future.

Gathering Legal Information

As noted, consider all the resources available to you about gun laws before traveling to New York. Do not simply rely on TSA regulations. You should take some time to learn about New York’s gun laws and the possible charges you can face.

Impact Of Local Firearm Laws

New York’s gun laws are not only specific, but they’re also diverse. Possessing a stolen firearm is a crime as is defacing a firearm. Possessing a loaded firearm without a license or permit outside one’s home or business is a crime. When faced with a New York gun charge, the excuse of not knowing that it was against the law falls short given the law’s specificity and clarity. Oftentimes, people think they are acting within the confines of the law but are mistaken. People who secure or use firearms illegally do not necessarily fall within this group. Having experienced counsel who knows the inner workings of the criminal justice system and the evolving nature of gun crimes can help you present a strong defense against any charges.

Likelihood Of Reciprocity Regarding Concealed Carry

New York does not recognize reciprocity with other states regarding gun laws, meaning to possess a firearm in the state, one needs a New York license or permit. While some federal legislation provides for temporary possession relative to transporting through the state and for law enforcement, there are no other exceptions to the rule.

One can argue that if they have a license to carry in their home state and are traveling within New York to go back home, their firearm possession in New York is legal. Keep in mind that this is just one argument, and upon arrest, no district attorney or judge needs to take their word about what happened. Regardless, the likelihood that the district attorney will conduct its own investigation is high, meaning you should know the laws of the state in which you wish to carry your firearm to avoid any consequences.

Moving To New York

As noted, an individual cannot bring their firearm to New York unless they are licensed in the city or state. One’s firearm possession must align with the license’s parameters. In the event that you face a gun charge and did not know you violated the law, it is best to address the issue rather than risk arrest and future prosecution. If one wishes to dispose or sell their gun, they should speak to an attorney who can outline the next steps to ensure that the gun’s relinquishment aligns with the law.

Common New York Gun Offenses

Among New York’s most common gun offenses are second-degree criminal possession and a Class C violent felony because courts consider them violent crimes per the statute. Before heading to trial, contacting a criminal defense attorney can provide you with the advice you need to secure a more favorable outcome.

There is a mandatory term of imprisonment for first-time offenders, ranging from three and a half years (minimum) to 15 years or more. For anyone with a prior felony in the past 10 years, the minimum increases to five years.

Impact Of An Individual’s Record

One’s past can potentially impact one’s sentence. For example, if the individual has a violent felony conviction, the minimum jumps to seven years. New York could deem the firearm loaded if the person’s unloaded gun is near ammunition, resulting in a violent felony charge.

Role Of Intent To Use

The law does not require New York prosecutors to establish that a person intended to use the firearm unlawfully against another person. Regardless of how one came about the gun, if the person had the gun outside their home or place of business and lacks the requisite permit, they run the risk of felony charges.

Risks Of Traveling With A Firearm

Even if one has a lawfully registered firearm in their home state and happens to travel to New York, the state does not have reciprocity, meaning it will not recognize that home state permit. Similarly, some may think that because their airline and the TSA approved them carrying a gun, so will New York, but the state’s criminal laws do not recognize such approval.

If one chooses to declare a firearm, the Port Authority Police Department likely will arrest and transport them to central booking in Queens for criminal processing. Choosing not to report might lead to similar consequences. Overall, airport gun crimes are strictly enforced in New York City, leading to stiff charges and rigorous prosecutions.

Defining Criminal Possession Of A Firearm

Another common offense in New York is criminal possession of a firearm (Penal Law Article 265 Section 265.01-b), similar to CPW but with one distinct difference. Under New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, having a firearm, even if unloaded, outside one’s home or place of business is a Class E felony.

Types Of Gun Charges

Previously, New York classified possessing an unlicensed or improperly registered firearm outside one’s home or place of business as a misdemeanor. Today, such a violation is a felony and punishable by up to four years in state prison.

Other firearm crimes include:

  • Misdemeanor CPW in the fourth degree
  • Felony CPW in the first, second and third degree

New York gun offenses, including felony charges, stay with someone forever. Since criminal possession of a firearm covers a vast array of scenarios, like mere possession of an unloaded weapon, one can face serious charges.

New York Concealed Carry Ordinances

New York’s handgun licensure requirements differ and recognize one’s ability to possess an appropriately licensed or permitted firearm in their dwelling or place of business.

Not all licenses allow the unrestricted concealed carrying of a firearm. The license must identify whether the person can carry the firearm on their person or at a specific location such as a home or business. It is the state of New York and New York City that dictate the law as opposed to local ordinances.

However, not all licenses allow unrestricted concealment of a firearm. The license or permit should reflect whether one can carry the firearm on their person or at a specific location.

Role Of Counsel

A person suspected or charged with a gun offense must contact well-informed legal counsel who can investigate and, if necessary, challenge the basis for a stop or search; examine the legal claims involved; and ultimately look at the evidence against you to craft a strong defense.

Note that it is not uncommon for a law-abiding citizen to violate one of New York’s strict gun laws unknowingly. Not everyone caught up in a firearm charge is a harmful or dangerous person. I am a former district attorney and experienced criminal defense lawyer. Let me make this distinction and protect your interests today.

New York Gun Penalties

A Class E felony for criminal possession of a firearm in New York carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. Similarly, third-degree criminal possession imposes a sentence of up to seven years in prison, with a two-year presumptive minimum.

Merely possessing a firearm without the intent to use it is a Class C violent felony with a mandatory minimum of three and a half years in prison. A sentence of up to 15 years is a possibility under this offense.

Keep in mind that every firearm in New York comes with a potential prison sentence. More severe crimes mandate incarceration. Contact me at the Law Offices of Peter Katz today to start building your defense.

Repercussions Of A Felony Conviction

One cannot seek to have a felony removed from their record. While New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) Article 160 Section 160.59 offers opportunities to seal some crimes, the law deems most gun and firearm offenses “violent,” rendering them ineligible from sealing.

For example, if a person is convicted of a violent crime such as CPW in the second degree for unlawfully possessing a loaded firearm in Midtown Manhattan that is legally owned and registered in Texas, not realizing it is against the law to have it in New York, the conviction for this crime can never be sealed and will forever show up on background checks.

Penalties deriving from such a conviction can include losing the right to vote; being banned from making future firearm purchases and receiving welfare benefits; being denied federal housing; and having to relinquish all employment licenses while also being banned from obtaining any others in the future. The categorization of the offense as violent is significant and can directly affect one’s livelihood.

The Prosecutor’s Role

Prosecutors treat gun offenses seriously and, for the most part, do not show sympathy when someone unlawfully possesses a firearm.

After arrest, authorities will run a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) report and see whether the firearm in question was used in a crime or stolen. A vital part of this is matching up the person carrying the gun with its serial number.

Law Enforcement And Prosecutors

Law enforcement is interested in looking at the license and where someone purchased the gun. Also important is how long the person had the firearm in New York and its storage while traveling through the state or visiting.

Prosecutors are lasered in on the law and do not accept ignorance of the law as justification for breaking the law. Though in the event that someone inspected your firearm per TSA guidelines and the law before facing law enforcement, district attorneys are more willing to consider alternative resolutions.

Importance Of Hiring Legal Counsel

My role as an advocate can have significant advantages when combatting firearm charges. Not only can I help answer questions that you might have, but I can also begin preparing a defense that looks at whether law enforcement executed a proper search and whether the prosecutor’s facts about the gun, its whereabouts and what happened are accurate. The most severe penalty is a Class B felony and carries a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment for first-time offenders and a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Knowing my client’s future is at risk, I am an experienced attorney who focuses on ensuring that my client’s rights and future remain protected. Read more about gun-related charges.

Consult With An Attorney As Soon As Possible

Given the complexity of New York’s gun laws, it is best for one to consult an experienced attorney to avoid making any life-altering mistakes that could come with a prison sentence and loss of a job. I can help. Call 609-900-2648 to set up a confidential and free consultation with me. If your inquiry is not urgent, you can also reach me via this contact form. I serve clients in both New York and New Jersey on both state and federal criminal matters.