Charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree? What to Know about New York Penal Code § 265.02.

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Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree (NY Penal Law § 265.02) is classified as a violent felony which can have serious financial and criminal penalties if convicted. If you are arrested and charged, you should immediately seek legal counsel and invoke your right to remain silent.

What is Criminal Possession Generally?

Criminal possession involves the illegal possession of any weapon. New York law defines a “weapon” rather broadly to include: a gun, a razor, switchblade, blackjack, knife, or other instruments known to be deadly. Criminal possession of a weapon is also punishable in four ways: possession in the first degree; second degree; third degree; and fourth degree. This article focuses solely on criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.

What Constitutes Criminal Possession of Weapon: Third Degree?

Third Degree criminal possession of a weapon makes possessing a weapon in combination with certain actions illegal.

These actions include:

  1. Possession of a weapon by a person with a prior conviction.

  1. Possession of a weapon that is:

  • Explosive or incendiary in nature;
  • A weapon silencer or bombshell;
  • A machine-gun; or
  • Similar to a machine-gun or adaptable to such use.
  1. Possession of a weapon with the knowledge that it has been defaced, or had its identity misrepresented or concealed in any way. For example, an individual decides to purchase a gun and then files off the serial number of the gun. In a later search, the individual is in possession of that gun.
  1. Possession of three or more firearms, or possession of a weapon with a previous felony or class A felony misdemeanor within the five years with the current possession taking place in any place other than their home or business.
  1. Knowingly possessing a disguised gun.
  1. Knowingly possessing an assault weapon.
  1. Unlawful possession of an ammunition feeding device with a large capacity.

Serious Penalties for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree:

  1. Prison: Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. However, the commission of this violent offense could carry a prison term up to seven years. In determining the sentence, the courts will look to the prior criminal history of the offender.
  1. Financial Penalty: In addition to the prison sentence imposed, an individual convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree may be subjected to fines and/or other financial penalties.

Defending Your Case

Do you have a defense? This is an important question that is best answered after analyzing the specific facts of your case. There are various defenses that may be available to reduce or dismiss the charges. One effective defense, for example, is if you were subjected to an illegal search. The suppression of evidence illegally seized can result in charges being dropped. However, the circumstances of each case are unique and legal counsel should be consulted immediately.

Stephen J. Riebling, Jr. and Marcia Payton are criminal defense attorneys at Riebling & Payton, PLLC, located in Westchester County, NY. They have successfully defended numerous clients charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon and related crimes. To learn more about them, the firm and their approach please visit Riebling & Payton, PLLC at

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