Over the past year alone, Saland Law, PC, a New York criminal defense firm, has represented well north of two dozen clients arrested, given Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs), or given pink summonses or tickets by police officers with the Port Authority Police Department for a litany of New York weapon crimes at Queens’ LaGuardia and JFK Airports. During that time, we have seen, and continue to see, what appears to be an uptick in law abiding people being charged with violating Penal Law Article 265 or the NYC Administrative Code for not just guns and knives, but “weapons” as innocent as batons.
Whether a client has a loaded or unloaded firearm, baton, switch blade, brass knuckles, or even one single bullet, the common thread across these cases is that either the individual was unaware possessing these items was criminal in New York State when they attempted to check the weapon, even if they legally possessed it elsewhere, or they had no idea the contraband in question was in their bag when they were screened by TSA agents. Regardless of the reason and no matter whether they are taken into custody or given an NYC Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT), these otherwise law-abiding citizens find themselves charged with misdemeanors or felonies.
Common Airport Crimes
Whatever the crime and the mechanism the Port Authority Police Department and Queens County District Attorney use to enforce the law, the following are the most common New York Penal Law Article 265 Weapon Crimes charged:
- Penal Law 265.03: Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
- Penal Law 265.01-B(1): Criminal Possession of a Firearm
- Penal Law 265.01(1): Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
- Penal Law 265.37: Unlawful Possession of Certain Ammunition/Feeding Devices
- NYC Administrative Code 10-131: Firearms and Ammunition Crimes
While possessing a firearm, baton, switchblade, brass knuckles, or loose ammunition is criminally punishable anywhere in New York City, prosecutors with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office see these arrests with a fair amount of regularity. That, however, does not mean they are taken lightly, or the potential penalty is any different. What it does mean is that in the right circumstances, and with the right advocacy, a misdemeanor or felony arrest will not by default land you with an indictment, lifelong record, or, far worse, incarceration.
Understanding the Offenses and Crimes
Penal Law 265.03: Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
A Class “C” violent felony punishable by a mandatory 3.5 years in prison to as much as 15 years, this crime is fairly basic and generally can be described as unlawfully possessing a loaded firearm (even if the ammunition is not in the revolver or pistol) outside your home or place of business. It is irrelevant in the eyes of the law if you have a conceal carry permit or would otherwise be lawfully possessing your gun in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, or elsewhere.
Penal Law 265.01-B(1): Criminal Possession of a Firearm
A Class “E” non-violent felony punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, this crime is no different than the more serious offense above but does not involve any ammunition or bullets.
Penal Law 265.01(1): Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon
A Class “A” misdemeanor allowing for as long as one year in jail, aka, Rikers Island, this offense sets forth certain items or objects that are by default considered weapons no matter how they are used (or not used). This strict liability crime centers around the knowing possession of things like firearms, switchblade knives, brass knuckles and even batons.
Penal Law 265.37: Unlawful Possession of Certain Ammunition Feeding Devices
A Class “B” misdemeanor with a possible sentence of as long as 90 days on Rikers Island, if you go through your TSA checkpoint and in your bag, for example, you knowingly have an ammunition feeding device with at least eight rounds, you have violated this law even if you are authorized to possess it elsewhere.
New York City Administrative Code 10-131: Firearms & Ammunition
An “Unclassified” misdemeanor, the penalty for this offense is the same as a Class “A” misdemeanor’s one year in jail. You would find yourself charged with this offense, often by way of a pink summons if there are no other crimes, if you have bullets for a gun that you are not lawfully allowed to possess in New York City.
Your Case, Your Future
As easy as it may be to panic if you are arrested or given a summons for any of these offenses, the proverbial sky is anything but falling. Yes, there could be direct and immediate consequences to your career, or you could find yourself waiting in Queens Central Booking after missing your flight, but with the right advocacy by your criminal defense attorney, you will overcome your case with, if nothing else, a story to tell. Yes, you would be a fool to take any of these charges lightly, just you would be naïve to think you do not need to implement a defense, but with the right strategy, and depending on you, your history, and what led to your arrest or summons, a non-criminal resolution and even some form of a dismissal may be in reach.
Again, have no misgivings. A conviction or lesser criminal plea for any of these offenses can be devastating, but there is a path to avoid such an outcome. Pause, take a step back, make the right decisions moving forward, and put yourself and your future in a place to keep your life trajectory going in the right direction.
Established in 2008, Saland Law, PC is a criminal defense firm founded by Jeremy Saland, a former New York City prosecutor. Over the course of the past 15 years, Jeremy has successfully defended, secured dismissals, and obtained violations for multiple hundred JFK and LaGuardia airport weapon arrests in Queens County. To learn more about these crimes, follow the highlighted links where you will find some case results and information on the substantive offenses.