Even before New York codified its “ghost gun” specific crime through Penal Law 265.01(9), any criminal lawyer, prosecutor, or judge would likely tell you that New York State had, and has, some of the strictest firearm laws on the books. In fact, possessing an unlicensed and loaded firearm outside your home or place of business, whether on your person, in your car, or even carried in the hard sided case you are checking your out-of-state licensed pistol at JFK or LaGuardia Airport in Queens, is a class “C” violent felony pursuant to Penal Law 265.03. Punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison no matter if you have a conceal carry permit elsewhere and no intent to use it a criminally, Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon is one of the most serious illegal gun offenses in the state but by no means the only one. With the proliferation of homemade guns, rifles, and shotguns, aka, “ghost guns”, constructed with frames purchased online or crafted from 3D printers, New York District Attorneys and police departments, including the NYPD, now have multiple weapons in their arsenal to enforce the law and ensure compliance with the criminal code.
“Jeremy wasn’t just ‘there’ for us 24/7, his experience and character shined when we needed it most.” – Father of client accused of Sex Abuse and Forcible Touching.
When people learn that as a criminal defense attorney I represent clients accused of sexual offenses including Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching, the response is often some form of questioning of how I can represent such people along with an assumption of my client’s guilt. While there are times when the evidence of wrongdoing is strong, there are other times when claims are false in part or in whole. Accept it or not, the fact is that false claims of Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching do happen. Whether it is .005% or far greater or much less, when you are the accused, it is of no consequence. It matters not what the percentages are or what has happened to somebody else. What matters is if the allegation made against you was weaponized to punish you out of anger or jealousy, used to facilitate a favorable outcome in a separate legal proceeding or other dispute, is born from regret, or is intentionally or accidentally false for any number of reasons.
New York, like other states, has its own criminal statutes that regulate the possession of guns. These offenses are generally found in Penal Law Article 265. While some have been on the books for decades, others are more recent additions. Two of these crimes, Penal Law 265.01-e, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun in a Sensitive Location, and 265.01-d, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in a Restricted Location, went into effect on September 1, 2022. Whether these class “E” felonies stand the test of time and legal challenges, criminal defense attorneys and everyday people residing in or visiting New York City, the Hudson Valley, or elsewhere in the state should have a basic understanding of these laws to best ensure they avoid arrest, prosecution, and as long as four years in prison.
Having both prosecuted individuals as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney and defended clients arrested and charged with Penal Law 265.03, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, as a New York gun possession lawyer, I have learned over the past 22 years that New York’s firearm laws can be unforgiving. For the uninformed, which there are many, the New York Penal Law does not differentiate between unlawfully possessing a loaded firearm – pistols, glocks, revolvers – outside your home or place of business that you illegally bought on the street or stole, from one otherwise lawfully possessed out of state but carried on your person in New York without the requisite license or permit here. Simply, even if there are other potential charges, in the eyes of New York law, there is no difference between holstering that back alley loaded gun in your waistband and walking around Brooklyn and declaring that same .9 mm to an airline representative or TSA agent, along with your out-of-state permit, before flying out of Queens’ JFK or LaGuardia Airport believing you are following proper protocols. Taken a step further, whether there is a bullet chambered in either scenario or the ammunition is in a case but not in the actual gun, the weapon may nonetheless be considered loaded.
With the above background in mind, Saland Law is pleased to share two separate results for clients arrested for Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon, aka, CPW 4, in Manhattan.
What can I be arrested for if I violate curfew in NYC? What can the NYPD charge me with if I am caught unlawfully entering a store through a broken window? Is it a felony or misdemeanor to burn a vehicle or damage a building? By no means covering all applicable arrest charges in New York City or elsewhere, the following are some potential offenses you can face if law enforcement determines your conduct violates the law and goes beyond the right to legally protest.
Commencing at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2020, New York Bail Reform, as it is commonly referred, takes discretion and authority from both judges and prosecutors and shifts power to far more strict and specifically outlined statutory guidelines. Codified throughout New York Criminal Procedure Law 500, a judge’s ability to set bail in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at the request of the District Attorney is limited and replaced with legislated standards. In fact, the language of CPL 510.10(1) is quite clear. “The court shall release the principal pending trial on the principal’s own recognizance, unless it is demonstrated and the court makes an individualized determination that the principal poses a risk of flight to avoid prosecution. If such a finding is made, the court must select the least restrictive alternative and condition or conditions that will reasonably assure the principal’s return to court.”
Although this blog entry is no substitute for understanding bail or the advocacy of your criminal lawyer at your arraignment, the following provides some basic principles and provisions that now govern the criminal justice system.
Raise the Age legislation, codified in part in CPL Article 722, has brought New York more in line with the majority of the nation in dealing with criminal charges and accusations against certain teenagers. The legislation was also largely a compromise between law enforcement and the proponents of these kinds of sweeping laws. The result, which sought to create a system where 16 and 17 year olds could still be prosecuted as adults in certain situations, is a complex system that leaves a healthy amount of grey area for juvenile and adolescent defense lawyers, courts and District Attorneys to interpret. Much of this is due to the creation of an entirely new class of offender – the “adolescent offender.” CPL 1.20(44) defines such a person as one charged with a felony committed on or after October 1, 2018 when he or she was sixteen years of age or on or after October 1, 2019, when he or she was seventeen years of age. When a person in this classification is charged with a felony, their case first goes to an adult Criminal Court where it remains, just as it always has, or, subject to various rules on removal out of the adult criminal justice system, to Family Court. These rules depend in large part on the particular crime with which the adolescent offender is charged as well as the facts and circumstances of the underlying conduct. Other rules aside, and the subject of this blog, if and when law enforcement can establish “extraordinary circumstances” as prescribed by CPL 722.23(1)(d), prosecutors can prevent a judge from transferring an adolescent offender’s case from an adult Criminal Court to a youth oriented Family Court thereby challenging the principles of treating children different than their adult counterparts.
While the law is clear and known to criminal lawyers practicing throughout the New York City region, when one thinks of menacing behavior one often thinks of threats with words, body, weapons or some combination of the three. Despite what those outside the legal profession may think, the Penal Law and court decisions that define the crime of Menacing is clear. Words alone are insufficient. More is needed. In a recent decision addressing the sufficiency of Third Degree Menacing, New York Penal Law 120.15, a trial court once again examined the statute providing further clarity to an often litigated section of the Penal Law.
While our client charged with Third and Second Degree Menacing and Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief cannot get back the months of his life lost to the criminal justice system, what started off as a bogus claim and an arrest of a federal law enforcement officer finally ended with his complete exoneration in a New York City Criminal Court. Although our client can now pursue the back pay he was denied during his suspension, as grateful as he was that the system “worked,” our client unfortunately witnessed firsthand how difficult it is when the system sees you as guilty even if the law is supposed to protect you with the presumption of innocence. Thankfully, after months of back and forth with a prosecutor who did her due diligence and, even if disagreeing, kept an open mind, pushing the case to a trial and rejecting an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back of this unfounded case. A great effort – and even better resolution – for the criminal attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC.
If fighting City Hall is difficult, battling the District Attorney’s Office is arguably harder when your arguments and evidence falls on deaf ears and your client’s exposure is not measured in money but a permanent criminal record and the duration of incarceration. Fortunately, however, when your client is left standing and walks away exonerated, there are few greater victories worthy of battle scars. For a recent Saland Law PC client arrested for Second Degree Burglary and other crimes, and subsequently charged with Third Degree Assault and Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, leaving the justice system unscathed other than by a undeserved and miserable experience could not be more rewarding. The following is lesson of how prosecutorial inexperience coupled with expansive power can result in potentially grave miscarriages of justice. Simply, no matter the allegation, it is incumbent upon any criminal defense attorney to question and challenge law enforcement to protect your rights.