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New York Criminal Possession of a Firearm (NY PL 265.01-b(1))

Criminal Possession of a Firearm in New York
In an attempt to further toughen gun laws that New York is known for, a new law was passed in 2013 that allows prosecutors and law enforcement officials to file illegal gun possession offenses as a felony or misdemeanor. Due to this law, former misdemeanor charges are now filed as felonies, which is why it is crucial for those facing a possession of a firearm charge to seek legal counsel.

When an individual knowingly possesses a working firearm, which could include a rifle, shotgun, or assault weapon, without a valid license, it is considered a Class E felony under New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1).

Those convicted of a felony for a criminal possession of a firearm could face one to four years in prison as well as a fine up to $5,000. If an individual is charged with a misdemeanor criminal possession of a firearm, he or she could face one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Although it is rare, first time offenders will sometimes be charged with a misdemeanor.

When an indiviudal in New York fails to properly register a firearm, he or she may also be charged with a Class E felony according to New York Penal Code 265.01-b(2). This conviction will pose the same penalties as a 265.01-b(1).

The Elements Surrounding a Felony Criminal Possession of a Firearm in New York
For an individual to be found guilty of a felony possession of a firearm charge, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual knowingly committed the following:
Had a firearm in his or her possession on a certain date in a county in New York;
Had a firearm on his or her possession that was operable.

What are the Penalties for a Felony Criminal Possession of a Firearm in New York?
An individual charged with criminal possession of a firearm will face a class E felony conviction, which is considered the least severe felony in New York. Those convicted of this charge could face the following consequences:

  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • One to four years in prison

Under certain circumstances, New York law allows an alternative definite sentence for those convicted of a Class E felony, but these individuals must be first-time offenders. Furthermore, the court may impose a fixed term sentence of less than one year, but this is only applicable after the court considers the circumstances and nature of the offense as stated in New York law. The court will also take into consideration the character and history of the individual who was charged. However, it is important to note New York rarely grants an individual charged with criminal possession of a firearm or any other weapon offenses with an alternative definite sentence.

If an individual has a gun license that was issued in another state, New York will not recognize the license as valid. A gun that is registered outside New York is considered illegal if an individual brings the firearm into the state for any reason.

Regardless of if a firearm is stowed away in a locked cased and an individual is traveling through the state, the firearm is still illegal if it isn’t properly registered in New York. Even if a gun isn’t loaded, it may still result in a felony arrest.

What is the Definition of an Assault Weapon in New York?
New York’s definition of an assault weapon is complex and is explained in New York Penal Law 265.00(22).

Under this law, a firearm doesn’t need to be loaded but must be operable. To be considered operable, the firearm has to be capable of discharging ammunition. However, previous circumstances, which involved a possession of a firearm, have conclusively proven that an individual does not need to know if the firearm was operable to be charged.

According to New York laws, “possess” is defined as having physical possession or exercising dominion of tangible property and could be actual or constructive. If a law enforcement official discovers a firearm on an individual and no one else had access to the weapon, it is considered actual possession. If more than one individual has access to a firearm, which could occur if the weapon was in an automobile or home, it is considered constructive possession.

The Importance of Obtaining an Experienced Attorney for a Possession of a Firearm Charge in New York
Those who were arrested for a felony criminal possession of a firearm in New York should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to provide assistance with the legal process. An experienced defense attorney understands the importance of properly investigating each client’s case to establish aggressive defense strategies that will increase the chances of a positive outcome.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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