Yes, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent numerous travelers flying in and out of area airports. No, just because the firearm is unloaded when you check it at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LaGuardia), doesn’t mean you will avoid an arrest. For that matter, merely because you checked in advance with the TSA or your airline, whether it is American, Delta, US Air, Southwest or JetBlue, that your hard side case was the proper means to store that pistol, in no way means police with the Port Authority will let you board your plane without an arrest. As you may only know now, your registration, carry permit or concealed license in Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Illinois or California (we can throw in Arizona or any other state if it makes you feel better), won’t shield you from an arrest and prosecution from the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. However, if there is any silver lining, albeit more of a silver colored paint as opposed to the precious metal itself, if an unloaded and unregistered firearm is recovered from you after you declare and attempt to check it, the crime you will face is not the dreaded Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon (New York Penal Law 265.03). As you will soon find out from your criminal defense attorney and the court, instead of a Class C violent felony, you will be booked and arraigned on the Class E felony of Criminal Possession of a Firearm (New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1)). While Criminal Possession of a Firearm is not as crippling as an arrest for possessing a loaded revolver, pistol or gun, its all relative. Unfortunately, a recent Saland Law PC client learned that the consequences of a weapon and firearm arrest in Queens County for trying to check an “illegal” handgun at the airport is no less significant whether its locked and loaded or merely the weapon itself. Fortunately, however, Saland Law PC mounted a successful mitigation defense.
Before getting confused about when a gun is loaded, do not think of it in the literal sense. That may be one (of many) serious mistakes you will make when bringing a firearm to a New York airport. Sure, your firearm is in a hard side case and bullets were not in the gun. However, New York law doesn’t forgive such ignorance of the law to shield an otherwise legal gun owner from prosecution. If the firearm is capable of being fired and the bullets are in the immediate vicinity, then the weapon can be considered loaded as a matter of law and the crime you face is an enhanced one. Where there is no ammunition or bullets, the Safe Act still allows your prosecution for a felony. That crime, and the one faced by an unsuspecting business traveler client of Saland Law PC, is Criminal Possession of a Weapon. New York PL 265.01-b(1), as noted above, makes it a crime to knowingly possess a firearm. Second Amendment be damned, you possess it knowingly and you are not licensed (and it the firearm is operable), you have bought yourself a ticket to the tombs, a missed flight, potential indictment and a return trip to New York in the near future (assuming you post bail or your criminal lawyer is able to secure your release).
Now that you armed with what not to do in New York (although the Port Authority, NYPD and our District Attorney’s Office may not appreciate my use of that term), the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC are pleased to again announce that we once more secured an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) for a client checking a firearm at the airport. While difficult to achieve, our criminal defense lawyers strove to put together the proper mitigation package to convince the assigned prosecutor as well as his chief that any other disposition would sabotage the future of an otherwise honest, hardworking, community conscientious businessman. While we never provide a client’s details, his or her arrest or how we achieve a dismissal or other non-criminal resolution to a firearm case, there is no substitution for experience and advocacy along with a close working relationship with a client who knows that all hands must be on deck to clear his or her name. Couple these factors with a receptive and reasonable prosecutor, the taint of a criminal record potentially be avoided and substituted with an adjournment that results in a dismissal.
Whether or not you have already been arrested for possessing a revolver or pistol at JFK or LaGuardia airport, the weapon is physical loaded or there is no ammunition at all, you are a family member try to get an accused out of jail or before a judge, or you are considering traveling to New York City or elsewhere in the State of New York, take the time to educate yourself. Review the extensive materials at New-York-Lawyers.org, read through this blog and speak with your counsel.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm established by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients for arrests both at Queens County Airports and elsewhere in the New York City region for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Firearm.