You have just been arrested for Criminal Possession of a Weapon for possessing a loaded firearm, gun, rifle or revolver. You tell your NY criminal defense attorney that the handgun was not loaded. After all, you had the ammunition locked away in the same carrying case as the gun while checking it at JFK or Laguardia Airports, but the bullets were not physically in it. In a different scenario, you explain to your criminal defense lawyer that your handgun was in a holster and empty while the bullets where in a pouch in your other pocket. How is it, you ask, that you are being charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in New York if the ammunition was not actually inside the gun?
The answer to this question is a fairly simple one. Pursuant to Penal Law Section 265.00(15), “Loaded Firearm” is defined under the NY Penal Law as “any firearm loaded with ammunition or any firearm which is possessed by one who, at the same time, possesses a quantity of ammunition which may be used to discharge the firearm.” See People v. Walston 147 Misc.2d 679 (Kings County 1990) (Possession of shotgun shell where the shotgun was present was sufficient to find the shotgun loaded.)
While the definition and law listed above may be a shock to you, the criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC have successfully represented and avoided criminal records for numerous individuals who possessed “loaded” firearms where they wrongfully believed they were “unloaded.” This mistake, even with a valid permit from another jurisdiction, is potentially devastating for anyone. The firearm you were about to drive out of the state or properly check at the airport can land you behind bars for a minimum of 3.5 years and a maximum of 15 years. Before making this life altering gaffe, you owe it to yourself to become educated on the gun laws in New York and to contact experienced criminal defense attorneys to help you navigate the murky waters of New York State’s gun laws.