New York PL 265.03: College Student Arrested at Airport for Checking a Firearm Gets Non-Criminal Violation and Record Sealing

Criminal lawyers or not, we can all argue and address the intentions and practical applications of the Second Amendment. Further, there are many of us who would agree that an AR-15 is not a reasonable weapon to have in your home or for hunting. That said, most weapon and gun crimes in New York are not of the assault rifle variety and tied to a complex Second Amendment issue. Each and every illegal firearm case prosecuted in New York may share certain traits, such as the potential for violating Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Firearm, but they are all far from the same. In the eyes of the law, however, while facts may be different, whether you possessed a revolver with the serial numbers scratched off, a glock in an ankle holster you purchased in cash from a guy you met on the street, or you are a licensed firearm owner visiting New York from Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Florida or another state, pistol, gun and weapon crimes pursuant to New York Penal 265.03 are offenses that carry a minimum of 3.5 year in prison upon conviction. Make no mistake. New York means business when it comes to illegal firearm possession and on its face an arrest for PL 265.03 is one of the most serious offenses in the New York criminal code. While everyone is entitled to a defense, police must follow proper procedure and prosecutors maintain the burden of proof, if you are an otherwise legal firearm owner arrested for a felony relating to that weapon, ensuring that you are not lumped into the same category as blatant abusers of the law who may possesses their guns for malicious purposes is critical. In the arena of a firearm arrest at JFK Airport or LaGuardia Airport in New York City’s Queens County, this could not be more true.

Without addressing the law of PL 265.03 and the Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon statute (there is ample information provided on the website this blog), in its most simple form it is a crime punishable by 3.5 to 15 years in prison to possess a firearm outside your home and place of business without the proper permit to do so if that firearm is loaded (loaded as a matter of law – something to vet and discuss with your lawyer). Even if it is not loaded, the police can arrest you for and prosecutors can charge you with New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1), Criminal Possession of a Firearm. An all to common scenario is not one that involves a police chase, a hold up or an arrest after the accused lets off a couple rounds. As noted above, tourists and visitors from Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona and every other state who visit New York often run afoul of this law when visiting the City and returning home with their legally owned gun. After all, who would think that checking with the TSA, your airline (Delta, American, United, JetBlue, etc.) and complying with the law would land you in prison or a holding cell with drug dealers, shoplifters, burglars and other alleged offenders?

Consistent with the above scenario, thinking too hard to be compliant and checking a legally owned firearm with the airline, honesty, respect and following of disclosed rules led not to a pat on the back for a Saland Law client, but an arrest and felony charge in Queens County, New York (the county with jurisdiction over JFK and LaGuardia). Despite the magnitude of the crime our client faced and the overwhelming nature of the criminal charges our college student client faced, the New York criminal defense attorneys and firearm lawyers at Saland Law PC convinced the District Attorney’s to not merely reduce the felony to a misdemeanor, but to reduce the charges even further to a Disorderly Conduct violation that sealed in one year and had no fine at all. Most importantly, even without a public record of the incident after one year, a PL 240.20 violation allows our client to graduate from college and answer any future interview or background check question with an unequivocal “no” that our client has no criminal record.

Remember, every case is distinct and unique. A firearm is a firearm, but the Queens County District Attorney’s Office was willing to listen as to why this particular individual “deserved” a deviation from the law. While we have dismissals in the past, each case rises and falls on its own merit and the advocacy provided and the fact that this particular DA’s Office was willing to listen speaks volumes.

To get a better understanding on all firearm and gun crimes in New York City, at New York airports and other regions, review this blog and the Saland Law PC website. General information on all New York weapon crimes, including on guns and legal decisions, can be found here as well.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients in criminal cases throughout the New York City region. Located in New York City, Saland Law PC was founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors.

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