According to the media, New York Giants All Pro wide receiver Plaxico Burress is turning himself in to the New York City Police Department for shooting himself in the leg this past weekend in Manhattan. As of now, it appears that he will be charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon, a class “C” felony, punishable by a minimum of 3.5 years in state prison to a maximum of 15 years.
Unfortunately for Mr.Burress, the criminal law and consequences have changed significantly in recent years. The “old” law required that prosecutors prove not only that you possessed a loaded firearm (handgun, pistol, etc.), but that you had the intent to use it unlawfully against another. Now, the mere possession of a loaded firearm outside your home or place of business constitutes the same level crime. That is, possession alone is a “C” felony and the prosecution does not have to prove in any way that you, or in this case Plaxico Burress, intended to use that gun unlawfully against another person. Only 2-3 years ago, under the same set of facts, Mr. Burress would likely have been charged “only” with a “D” felony punishable by a minimum of 2 years in state prison and a maximum of seven years if the prosecution could not establish that the gun was possessed with the intent to use it unlawfully.
Although the charges and penalties are harsher then they were in the past, skilled criminal defense attorneys, such as the former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC, know how to analyze and pick apart a prosecutor’s criminal case. While on its face the charges against Plaxico Burress seem overwhelming (hey, he shot himself in the leg!), not everything is as clear as it seems. While we don’t know all the facts, questions and issues that will likely arise over the next few days might give prosecutors pause. For example, where is the gun and bullet that were part of the shooting? If the gun was not recovered in Manhattan, such as where a person is stopped with the firearm, is there a witness who can establish that the shooting took place at a particular location in the jurisdiction? In the alternative, is there a video? While nobody is likely to contest that there was a shooting, there needs to be some form of evidence that incident took place and the firearm was possessed in Manhattan.
While there are many ways to attack a prosecutor’s case, an experienced and skilled eye is needed to find and investigate each detail. Time will tell whether Plaxico Burress’ criminal defense attorney will be able to find or expose such a weakness. Irrespective of the outcome of his matter, if you find yourself in any criminal predicament, Crotty Saland PC is ready to aggressively fight to protect your rights, freedom, livelihood and integrity.