The state of New York has some of the toughest weapons and gun laws in the country. Defendants facing weapons and gun charges could be sentenced to serious prison time if convicted. New York defendants can face weapons charges as their sole crime or, the weapons charges could be in addition to another crime. The penalties for crimes are often harsher when the defendant uses a weapon during the commission of the crime. For example, prosecutors could add a weapons charge to homicide, assault, or other criminal charges. If convicted of both a weapons charge and a homicide charge, defendants could face life in prison.
Our Attorneys Are Skilled in Firearms and Weapons Charges Defense
Facing a weapons charge in Syracuse, New York, is serious. People are often surprised to learn of the possible sentences, as prison time is frequently mandatory. A defendant should secure skilled representation when facing weapons charges. At CDH Law PLLC, our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in New York weapons charges. We understand the tactics that prosecutors often use to attempt to increase jail time and other penalties. We help defendants review their legal options, and we negotiate assertively on their behalf with the prosecutors. Our criminal defense team has proven courtroom experience with a reputation for success at trial. Contact our Syracuse criminal defense law firm today to learn how we can protect your rights.
Illegal Use of a Firearm in New York
Prosecutors charge defendants with a Class A misdemeanor for illegal use of a firearm when the defendant does any of the following:
- Intentionally fire a weapon in a public place or area
- Intentionally fire a gun within a quarter-mile of an occupied school building
- Aim a gun at another person without malice
Intentionally shooting a gun at a train, bus, aircraft, or another vehicle while putting others in danger is a class D felony in New York that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Criminal use of a firearm in the first degree is punishable by up to 25 years in jail.
The prosecution must prove that the defendant committed any violent Class B felony to prosecute a defendant for criminal use of a firearm in the first degree. In addition to committing the Class B felony, the defendant must have also illegally possessed a deadly loaded weapon or displaying what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or another firearm.
For example, if law enforcement officers discovered the defendant committing a burglary, and he or she had a loaded gun in his hand, prosecutors could charge him with burglary in the first degree. Because burglary in the first degree is a class B felony, prosecutors could add on the charge of criminal use of a firearm in the first degree.
Possession of Illegal Weapons in New York
New York criminal law makes it illegal to possess certain types of weapons. The following criminal charges fall under the umbrella of possession of an illegal weapon:
- Criminal Possession of a firearm
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First to the Fourth Degree
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds
- Unlawful Possession of Weapons by Persons Under Sixteen
Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree
Penalties for possession of illegal weapons charges vary. For example, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year-long jail sentence. In some instances, prosecutors do not need to prove that a defendant had any criminal intent to charge the defendant with possession of an illegal weapon. New York criminal law prohibits the possession of many types of dangerous weapons other than guns. Merely having any of the following weapons in one’s possession is enough to violate New York criminal law:
- Possession of an Unlicensed Firearm
- Electronic dart gun
- Electronic stun gun
- Gravity knife
- Switchblade knife
- Pilum ballistic knife
- Metal knuckle knife
- Cane sword
- Plastic knuckles
- Metal knuckles
- Chuka stick
- Sand Bag
- Wrist-brace type slingshot
- “Kung Fu Star”
In some instances, the defendant must have possessed a dangerous weapon and had criminal intent to use the weapon unlawfully against another person to face a criminal weapons possession charge. For example, the defendant must have had criminal intent while in possession of one of the following weapons:
- Dangerous knife
- Imitation pistol
- Any other type of dangerous or deadly weapon
Defendants can face a criminal weapons possession charge for possessing a rifle, shotgun, black powder rifle or shotgun, or any muzzle-loading firearm when the defendant has been convicted of a felony or another serious offense. Non-citizens can also face criminal charges for possessing any deadly or dangerous weapon. Finally, gun owners who lawfully own a rifle or shotgun can face criminal possession of weapon charges when they refuse to yield possession of their weapon to a police officer upon request.
Penalties for Weapons Charges in New York
The penalties for a conviction of a weapons conviction charge depend on the degree of the crime. Prosecutors determine which degree to charge defendants based on several factors, such as whether he or she is a citizen, the type and quantity of weapons involved, and whether or not the gun was loaded at the time of possession. There are four degrees of weapons possession charges, as follows:
- First Degree Criminal Weapons Possession is a Class B Felony
- Second Degree Criminal Weapons Possession is a Class C Felony
- Third Degree Criminal Weapons Possession is a Class D Felony
- Fourth Degree Criminal Weapons Possession is a Class A Misdemeanor
Conviction of a Class A Misdemeanor can result in a $1,000 fine and up to a year-long jail sentence. Defendants convicted of a Class B Felony face severe penalties of up to a 25-year prison sentence.
Our Weapons Charges Defense Attorneys in Syracuse & Central New York Can Help
Both misdemeanor and felony weapons-related convictions will result in the creation of a criminal record. Individuals with criminal records often experience difficulties getting hired for jobs, getting approval for a car or home loan, and renting or purchasing a property. Fighting your criminal weapons charge as seriously as possible is essential. Contact CDH Law PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how our attorneys can help you fight your New York weapons charge.