At no point did you believe that your flight home from New York City’s JFK or LaGuardia Airport would leave you stranded in New York. No, not stranded on the tarmac or in the airport, but in a jail charged with Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon (New York Penal Law 265.02). You thought you were adhering to the TSA’s rules. You even went online or called your airline to determine how to properly transport your firearm, pistol or revolver. According to JetBlue, Delta, American, or any airline, the transportation of your weapon must comply with certain requirements – requirements you thought you were complying with. Unfortunately, you didn’t know that if you have a firearm or gun that is not registered in New York (NYC has its own registration requirements greater than those in the State of New York) and you go to an airport in Queens (JFK or LaGuardia), you are in possession of an illegal weapon.
Some would argue that your second amendment right is kicked to the curb when you enter the boundaries of New York while others would argue that the legislature and citizens of the Empire State don’t want or need your guns flooding their borders. Regardless of your perspective on the law, “it is what it is.” When you check your hard sided case with an agent and you advise that the weapon is not loaded because the bullets or ammunition are not in the gun, he or she smiles back to you and tells you to wait. In only a matter of minutes you are handcuffed and arrested for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 265.03) and potentially the lesser (but a still significant and crippling felony) of Criminal Possession of a Firearm (New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1)).
Unfortunately for two recent Crotty Saland PC clients, the above scenario is precisely what played out when they attempted the check their firearms with a ticket agent. Both of these clients legally possessed their firearm’s in their respective home states of West Virginia and Missouri, but did not realize that those same guns, when possessed in New York, loaded and outside their home or place of business, could land them in prison for a mandatory minimum of three and a half years and as many as fifteen years in prison. Even if an accused can somehow beat the arrest charge of Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon (NY PL 265.03) there is sill the “lesser” crime of Criminal Possession of a Firearm (NY PL 265.01-b(1)) to contend with. Criminal Possession of a Firearm is serious enough to carry a potential four year sentence and a permanent record that will never be expunged.
Despite the severity of the allegations, some favorable factors aided the criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC in advocating for these unrelated and respective clients arrested for and charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon. While one of the clients did have a prior Drunk Driving related arrest, neither had a criminal record. Further, none of the firearms were technically loaded as the ammunition was separate and apart from the guns ( again, its more than noteworthy to recognize that the law in New York does not mandate that ammunition be in a firearm to be loaded in the eye’s of the law). Additionally, both men were reputable members of their respective communities and one was a decorated military veteran.
Only some of the factors shared with prosecutors, these men walked away relatively unscathed and without criminal records. Could other cases and arrests involving Criminal Possession of a Weapon be different and more grave? Certainly. Is the law harsh on otherwise responsible citizens complying with the law of their home states? Maybe. Regardless, handled properly, a lesson could be learned (we can discuss what that lesson is). Handled improperly, one could see the inside of a jail cell for a long time.
To learn about New York gun crimes and firearm offenses, review the links found here or go directly to the New York Weapon Crimes section of Crotty Saland PC and this blog (linked above and below).
Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal law practice dedicated to representing clients in federal and state investigations, arrests and trials involving alleged criminal conduct throughout the New York City region.