Illegal Possession of a Firearm
Illegal possession of a firearm is a serious offence in New York. Under Article 265 of the New York Penal Code, a firearm is defined as a pistol, revolver, shotgun with one or more barrels under 18″ in length, any weapon made from a modified shotgun, or an assault weapon.
- State Penalties for Illegal Possession of a Firearm:
Criminal possession of a weapon (in this instance a gun) is divided into three degrees. Criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is a Class C felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison, while the third degree version of the offense is a Class D felony that could result in a 7-year prison term. Criminal Possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail. There is also, in theory, a 1-year mandatory jail sentence on any felony gun conviction.
- When is the best time to act?:
If you have been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately, especially if you are facing a second (or higher) felony gun conviction or the weapons possession charge is being combined with other, more serious, charges.
- Related Crimes:
Criminal Sale of a Firearm, Conspiracy, Attempted Murder, Murder
- Difference between New York state and Federal statutes:
Under federal law, a person cannot deliver, transport, or accept a firearm whose serial number has been removed, altered, or destroyed. Certain classes of people, such as convicted felons, drug addicts, the mentally incapacitated, and the recipients of a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. military are barred from owning or possessing a firearm. A conviction under federal firearm laws can potentially result in a sentence of 5-10 years in prison and a heavy fine. The severity of the sentence is affected if the illegally possessed firearm was used in connection with crimes such as drug trafficking. If someone is a convicted felon, it is possible to achieve a “felon in possession” charge even if the firearm was not on their person. The intent and ability to control the weapon is enough to secure a conviction. Federal prosecutors also don’t need to prove that the firearm was working or capable of being fired to obtain a conviction.
- Successful Defenses:
Unlawful search and seizure, proof that the firearm belonged to another party, proof that the firearm was planted, entrapment, and mental disease / defect are acceptable defenses.
- High profile/government cases:
On April 3, 2013, the Manhattan District Attorney announced the indictments of Javon Burgess and Paul Lee for selling 39 illegal guns, ammunition, and magazines to undercover NYPD detectives posing as gun dealers. Burgess was charged with several counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First, Second, and Third Degrees, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second and Third Degrees, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. Lee was charged with multiple counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First and Third Degrees, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second and Third Degrees, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.