New York City’s JFK and LaGuardia airports see their fare share of criminal activity. The airports are crawling with federal, state and local law enforcement ready to swoop down at the first sign of some wrong doing. One of the seemingly growing crimes that the Port Authority Police Department, TSA and airline ticketing agents seem to be ready, willing and able to pounce on is the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon. More specifically, the crime that is routinely prosecuted is Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 265.03. Obviously each fact pattern is different, but the themes generally run the same. You are a legal or registered firearm owner in California, Florida, Texas or some other state. You are visiting New York City , Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, the Hudson Valley or a neighboring state such as New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania. Nobody stopped you from coming to this jurisdiction or advised you that you couldn’t bring your revolver, pistol or other gun to the State of New York. Why would you expect anything would be different when you packed up the gun, separately carried the ammunition and checked your firearm at the airport for your journey home? Why? Well, sadly the answer is clear and now you need a New York firearm lawyer and criminal defense attorney to mitigate your “wrongful” conduct from a statutory violent felony with mandatory incarceration to something that will not destroy your future or livelihood.
There is a saying that ignorance of the law is no defense. This holds true even if we believe the law is lousy or results in prosecuting otherwise innocent people. Unfortunately for a recent Saland Law PC client, ignorance of the gun and firearm laws in New York City did not mean that his possession of his licensed firearms from California at JFK Airport was permissible. Good guy or bad, if convicted of New York Penal Law 265.03 our client faced a mandatory minimum of three and one half years in a New York State prison. Although not likely in these cases, the law permits a sentence of up to 15 years. Certainly, a law abiding owner of a registered firearm should face such consequences after researching as best he or she could with the airline and TSA about how to pack or travel with a weapon (note sarcasm). While its of no consequence whether I support New York’s firearm laws or the judge believes they are lenient or harsh, as it stands now there is no difference between possessing the firearm at the airport as described here or possessing the gun in your waistband on Gotham’s crowded streets. Further, in the eyes of New York’s criminal law, a clip and ammunition loaded into the firearm that is in your waistband is no different than the bullets sitting next to the unloaded firearm properly locked away in a hard sided case. Either way, you are deemed to possess an unlicensed and loaded firearm outside your home or place of business and in violation of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree.
Now back to Saland Law PC’s client…The client was traveling to New Jersey for business through New York’s airports. Knowing he would have some down time and his colleague enjoyed going to the range, our client brought two pistols and hundreds of rounds to fire at the range. Storing the firearm properly throughout the process and stay, police officers with the Port Authority arrested our client after he declared the firearm while checking in for the flight back to California. While anybody would be terrified of such an arrest, the consequences to our client were grave. Not a citizen, but a legal resident since our client was only a couple of years old, our client had immediate immigration issues should our client be convicted of this felony. Moreover, our client was at risk of losing his job and, as a professional, it would not be easy to start a new career or work with a new business with a criminal record whether or not our client saw a day in jail.
Fortunately, after directing our client as to what we needed to convince prosecutors in the Queens District Attorney’s Office to reduce the charges and presenting our case for mitigation, prosecutors agreed to move for (offer) our client an ACD pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law 170.55. As such, our client’s arrest was set to be dismissed and sealed after six month and the underlying arrest was to become a “nullity.”
The New York criminal lawyers and firearm defense attorneys at Saland Law PC cannot guarantee that every firearm arrest for their clients will result in a non-criminal resolution. However, understanding the law and means to mitigate conduct or legally challenge evidence is always a critical component. To educate yourself on these laws and procedures to assist in your own defense, review this blog entry and the links found within and below.
The New York firearm defense lawyers and criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC represent clients accused of firearm crimes throughout the New York City region and New York airports. Saland Law PC was founded by former Manhattan prosecutors.