There are four distinct and separate charges for criminal possession of a weapon in New York. The most serious of these is Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law § 265.03). What is unique about this crime is that it does not involve the possession of a weapon such as a razor or switchblade. To be charged with this offense, a person must be in possession of a gun or firearm.
Defining Criminal Possession of a Weapon: Second Degree
Under § 265.03, it is against the law to possess a loaded firearm, a machine gun, or five or more firearms. It is also illegal to possess a disguised firearm with the intent to use it in an illegal manner.
The Gun Does Not Have to be Loaded
It is important to know that New York law states that a loaded firearm does not mean the clip has to be in the gun or the bullet in the chamber. If the firearm is capable of being loaded, you can still be charged. For example, if an individual has an unloaded firearm with bullets in his or her pocket, the individual could still face criminal charges.
Defending Charges of Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
It is a defense to criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree if the loaded weapon or firearm was in the home or business of the individual accused.
Another possible defense arises from the illegal search and seizure of the weapon. For instance, if a police officer finds a loaded firearm in your possession during a traffic stop, then the police must show that there was probable cause to make the traffic stop in order to justify the search. Any traffic stop, which resulted in a criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree charge, would be inadmissible if a defense attorney can prove that the stop was made in an unlawful manner.
Penalties for a Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree Conviction
Since Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree is a class C felony a conviction could result in a prison sentence up to 15 years. As a violent felony offense, there is a three year minimum prison sentence. It must be noted that probation is not an option even when the individual has no prior criminal record.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible and not make any statements if you are arrested or charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Especially given the fact that a conviction carries a mandatory that you serve a prison sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney can answer your questions and develop the best plan to defend your case.
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 www.RieblingPaytonLaw.com.