With the amount of blog entries I have recently drafted relating to New York weapon crimes including those involving New York firearm laws and knife arrests, one would think that the criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC spend their days solely defending clients against misdemeanor (New York Penal Law 265.01) and felony (New York Penal Law 265.02 and 265.03) weapon arrests. While we certainly do our best to keep ourselves up to date on the ever changing laws and regulations involving New York weapon crimes, this area of law is remains a significant piece of our criminal defense practice. Irrespective of how often we represent clients accused of possessing legally owned firearms at JFK or LaGuardia airports or gravity knives on the streets of NYC, there can be little dispute that many weapon statutes in New York are enforced with greatest of intentions, but often against honest, “clean” and law abiding people.
In a recent example of a “regular Joe” being ensnared in a New York weapon crime, Saland Law PC represented an attorney accused of possessing a knife with a blade exceeding four inches. Further, when arrested with possessing this knife, both the police and prosecutors at the District Attorney’s Office charged our client with violating New York Penal Law 265.01(2). Not the “per se” section of the New York Penal Law, this subsection of Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon makes it a crime (in substance) to possess any dangerous instrument (it has a very liberal definition) unlawfully against another person. Keep in mind…under the right circumstances a can of Red Bull or your backpack could be considered a dangerous instrument.
The police arrested our client after stopping the vehicle in which he was a passenger. In the back of the vehicle, our client had his camping gear and the knife in question. According to the police, the knife was in plain view (our client disputed this claim). Not on his person, the police arrested our client for possessing the knife with intent that he was using it unlawfully against another. Although prosecutors drafted the complaint, our attorneys argued that a knife in the backseat area of a car and outside the reachable area of a defendant (with no other indicia of possession or use) did not satisfy the minimum requirement for facial sufficiency where prosecutors must establish an intent to use the knife unlawfully. Further, even though the knife blade exceeded four inches and violated NYC Administrative Code 10-133, in the spirit of fairness, the knife clearly was one used for camping (the knife was amongst all sorts of camping gear).
Upon investigating the case further and speaking with the arresting police officer, the District Attorney’s Office did the “right thing.” Not only did they dismiss the arrest charge of NYC Administrative Code 10-133, but they also dismissed the arrest charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in Fourth Degree. While prosecutors were not legally bound to dismiss the former charge, they simply did not have the legal standing to prosecute or prove beyond a reasonable doubt NY PL 265.01(2).
While our client was certainly ecstatic that the case was ultimately dismissed, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC can in no way guarantee the same result for future clients. More importantly, however, the critical thing to recognize is that merely because you are charged with a weapon crime, whether it be for possessing a gravity knife or even a firearm, does not in fact mean the arrest or charge is a legal or viable one. The critical importance of fighting cases on procedural, legal or factual grounds in addition to or apart from mitigating conduct, cannot be ignored.
To learn more about the different weapon crimes in New York and their respective statutes, follow the links in this entry as well as those listed below. Further, a search of the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com’s “Weapon Possession” section will reveal additional analysis and case results.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients throughout the New York City region.