While New Yorkers have the Constitutional right to bear arms, the state imposes some of the strictest penalties for gun and firearm crimes in the country. Gun-related offenses are typically charged as violent felonies, and a conviction can come with long-term social, financial, and professional repercussions — as well as a criminal record. But it’s important to understand that a charge isn’t the same as a conviction. The prosecutor has the burden of proof to establish their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Types of Gun Crimes
Being found guilty of a crime involving a firearm in New York can result in harsh penalties and severe consequences. New York’s definition of firearm includes pistols, revolvers, certain rifles, shotguns, and assault weapons. However, the legal requirements associated with the purchase of handguns are much more stringent than the laws for buying rifles or shotguns.
The gun laws in New York State are extremely complex and cover a broad scope of situations — and the penalties have become increasingly harsh over the past decade. Jail time is usually mandatory for gun crime convictions, regardless of whether it is a first or subsequent offense. Some common gun crimes in New York include the following:
- Criminal use of a firearm
- Simple possession of an unlicensed firearm
- Criminal possession of a firearm
- Possession of an assault weapon
- Criminal possession of a firearm on school grounds
- Possession of a firearm in an airport
- Illegal sale of a firearm
- Illegally purchasing a firearm
Significantly, the consequences of a gun crime can range in severity depending on the specific charges. For instance, possessing a loaded gun with the intent to use it unlawfully is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Serious gun crimes may be charged as Class B felonies, which can result in up to 25 years of incarceration. Even the failure to register a gun can be charged as a Class E felony, carrying a maximum prison sentence of four years.
Individuals visiting New York should be aware that even if their gun is properly registered in their home state, carrying it in New York City can constitute a felony. Those moving to the state must obtain a New York permit, even if they have a permit from the previous state — New York allows a grace period for new residents to obtain a state gun permit. While there is typically no reciprocity with other states concerning concealed carry, New York may accept valid hunting licenses issued in other jurisdictions.
Common Defense Strategies for Firearm Charges
Fighting a charge for a gun crime in New York can be challenging. However, the prosecution has a very high burden of proof to obtain a conviction. Each crime has several elements that must be satisfied to find a defendant guilty. Critically, there are a number of strategies an experienced defense attorney may be able to use, depending on the specific charge.
For a simple possession charge, lack of knowledge or intent may be a viable defense. In addition, if the police did not have probable cause or violated a defendant’s Constitutional rights, evidence may have to be suppressed. If the weapon was obtained through illegal search and seizure, the prosecution’s case might be thrown out entirely. In some instances — such as those in which the defendant had a firearm license from another state — a defendant may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to reduce the charges.
Contact an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney
Gun crimes are serious, and a conviction can alter the course of your life. If you are charged with a gun crime, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable defense attorney on your side who can aggressively advocate for your rights. The criminal defense attorneys at D’Emilia Law offer skillful defense and committed counsel to those who have been charged with a wide variety of gun crimes in New York — and fight to secure favorable results in their cases. To schedule a consultation, contact us at 1-888-DEMILIA.