The Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms. But the states reserve the right to regulate this—and they do. There are numerous different laws that control how we can own and use weapons. When you run afoul of these laws, you can face serious penalties. And New York gun laws are known for being particularly strict, and penalties severe.
You could have been protecting yourself when you pulled out your weapon. But if you don’t have a license for that gun, you can still face charges. Gun laws can be complex and confusing. When you are charged with a weapons offense, consulting with a New York criminal defense attorney is often the best way to make sense of the charges you are facing.
NEW YORK FIREARMS/WEAPONS LAWS
There are two main weapons offenses in New York: Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Criminal Use of a Firearm.
Criminal Use of a Firearm involves showing or using a gun in the commission of a crime.
Second Degree Criminal Use of a Firearm
You could be charged with criminal use of a firearm in the 2nd degree if it’s believed you committed a class C violent felony offense, and:
- Possessed a deadly weapon, or
- Displayed a pistol, rifle, shotgun, revolver, machine gun, or other firearm.
This offense is considered a C Violent Felony charge and can carry up to 15 years in prison
First Degree Criminal Use of a Firearm
Criminal use of a firearm in the 1st degree involves committing any class B violent felony while:
- Possessing a deadly weapon, or
- Displaying a pistol, rifle, shotgun, revolver, machine gun, or other firearm.
This crime is classified as a B violent felony and carries up to 25 years in prison.
Criminal Possession of a Weapon
Criminal possession of a weapon is a charge that applies when you are not legally licensed to carry a weapon or if that weapon is unlawful itself.
Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
There are many reasons you could be facing this charge. The prosecution will have to prove that you:
- Simply possessed one of the following weapons: firearm, electronic dart gun, stun gun, switchblade, slingshot, “Kung Fu star”, metal knuckles, or others,
- Possessed one of the following with intent tu use it against another person: knife, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, or another dangerous or deadly instrument,
- Possessed a firearm on school grounds,
- Are not a U.S. citizen and possessed a firearm,
- Have been deemed not suitable for gun ownership and refused to give up possession upon the direction of law enforcement, or
- Possessed any armor piercing ammunition.
This offense is classified as an A misdemeanor charge and carries up to 1 year in jail.
Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
In order to be charged and convicted of 3rd degree criminal possession of a weapon, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Committed the offense of 4th degree criminal possession of a weapon and you have a criminal history,
- Possessed 3 or more firearms, an assault weapon, any disguised gun, a large capacity ammunition feeding device, any explosive, bomb, silencer, or machine-gun, or
- Possessed a weapon outside of the home or business and have a previous conviction of a felony or Class A misdemeanor in the past five years.
This offense is classified as a D violent felony and carries a potential 7 years in prison.
Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
Criminal possession of a weapon in the 2nd degree is a Class C violent felony, carrying a potential 15 year prison sentence. In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Possessed one of the following with intent to use unlawfully against another person: machine gun, loaded firearm, disguised gun,
- b. Possessed 5 or more firearms, or
- c. Possessed any loaded firearm.
First Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
This offense is the most serious criminal possession of a weapon charge and is classified as a B violent felony, carrying up to 25 years in prison. You could face this charge if it’s believed you:
- Possessed 10 or more firearms, or
- Possessed any explosive with the intent to use it against a person or another person’s property.
Ref: NY State Law §265.01-265.04
Gun charges are a serious matter and in an effort to keep the streets of New York safe, courts treat them accordingly. If you’ve been accused of a weapons offense and are unsure of what to do, contact us today to discuss your case.b