What are the common weapons possession crimes?
The charge of criminal possession of a weapon in can be a misdemeanor or a felony. A person can be charged with weapons possession if they possess any item that has been defined or identified as a weapon under Section 265 of the Penal Law. The most common weapons possession charges are for the possession of firearms, knives, ammunition and ammunition devices. If you are charged with a weapons possession charge, the seriousness of the charge depends on the type of weapon possessed, the location where the weapon was possessed and the manner in which was used or possessed.
Recently, the illegal possession of a firearm is the most common crime charged for weapon possession cases. Firearm offenses are one of the most serious offenses in New York State under the New York State Penal Law.
Additionally, under the laws of New York, just about anything can be deemed a weapon depending on how it is used or possessed. The reason for this is because the Penal Law defines “dangerous instrument” as any instrument, article or substance, including a “vehicle”, which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.” For example, a writing pen that is used to stab and injure somebody can be deemed a weapon and you can be charged with misdemeanor weapons possession and assault. Similarly, a rolled up newspaper that is used to strike somebody and causes injury can be deemed a weapon which will lead to weapons and assault charges. So virtually anything, depending on how it’s used, can be deemed a weapon in New York State.
Another common weapons possession charge in New York State is for possessing some form of a knife/blade or a gravity knife or switchblade. Common items such as knives and box cutters purchased at hardware stores and flea markets have been frequently deemed by the police to be switchblades and gravity knives and have led to arrests of people who have them in their possession. We have represented clients who have been charged with these types of cases and we have been able to demonstrate to the prosecution that the knives commonly purchased at hardware stores do not meet the legal definition of a switch blade or a gravity knife.
The experienced attorneys at Watford Jackson, PLLC have been successful in defending numerous clients who were facing weapons related charges. Our knowledge of the criminal law and procedures has resulted in resolving our client’s cases with dismissals of the charges or non-jail dispositions.
Will I go to jail for possessing a weapon?
If you own a handgun and live in New York you must have your gun properly registered and licensed. If you fail to do so your handgun is considered an illegal firearm which can subject you to arrest and criminal charges. New York’s weapons laws is geared towards reducing homicides and violent confrontations and therefore casts a large net prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons or loaded firearms. For example, a person who is convicted for possessing an illegal firearm can face a potential sentence with a mandatory minimum of 3 ½ half years in state prison and be classified as a violent felony offender.
Generally, if you are charged only with misdemeanor weapons possession upon conviction you can be sentenced up to one year in jail. However, if you have no prior criminal record, based upon our experience, it is likely that you will receive some form of non-criminal and non-jail disposition of your case. If you are charged with misdemeanor weapons possession and there are aggravating factors such as being charged with other crimes (i.e. drug possession, assault, DWI, etc.), it will depend on the seriousness of the top charge and your prior criminal record.
Can I be charged with possessing a weapon where no weapon was found on me?
A person who is found in possession of a firearm can be charged with weapons possession even if they are not the owner. If you are holding it, you possess it. Even if someone gave it to you to hold for them temporarily to give to someone else or you found it, you can be charged with weapons possession if the arresting officer finds the gun on you. Under New York law, there are two legal concepts that allow a person to be charged with weapon possession even though they did not actually possess the weapon when it was recovered by the police. The first legal concept is called “Constructive Possession” where a person can be charged with possessing a firearm even if the firearm was not actually in their possession. A person can constructively possess a firearm when that person exercises a level of control over the area where the firearm was found and the control was sufficient to give the person the ability to use or dispose of the firearm. For example, if the car that you are driving is stopped and searched by the police and there is an illegal weapon found in the trunk, you can be charged with possessing that weapon even though you did not actually possess the weapon.
The second legal concept is called the weapons presumption which allows the police and the prosecutors to charge multiple individuals with possessing a single firearm. If an illegal weapon is found inside of a car occupied by multiple people and no one claims ownership of the weapon, the law allows all of the individuals to be charged with possessing that one weapon. Under Section 265.15 of the Penal Law, the presence of the illegal weapon inside of the car is “presumptive evidence of its possession by all persons occupying such automobile” at the time the weapon is found. The presumption can be rebutted by an experienced attorney to demonstrate that the client clearly did not knowingly possess the weapon. There are a variety of different theories that can be used to prove that a client is not guilty of illegally possessing a weapon.
Although the police and prosecutors may be able to charge a person with weapons possession, the prosecution is still required to prove each and every element of the weapons possession charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Watford Jackson, PLLC can present evidence to rebut any presumptions as well as evidence to conflict with the prosecutors allegations and cast a reason to doubt the evidence presented.
What is the most important thing that a client must tell their attorney when they are charged with the weapon possession case?
A client must tell their attorney everything that happened during the initial police encounter. The most important part of the weapons possession case is determining the reason for the law enforcement officer either stopping or approaching the individual who was ultimately arrested. The next important thing for the client to tell his/her attorney is the circumstances surrounding the search and the retrieval of the weapon. The client must also tell the attorney exactly what the law enforcement officer told them was the reason for the stop and everything that the client said to the officers when answering their questions. These are crucial facts that your attorney will need in order to properly evaluate whether or not the officers followed the law and proper procedures when stopping, questioning, searching and retrieving the alleged illegal weapons.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any weapons offense, your first call should be to your family and your next call should be to the law firm of Watford Jackson, PLLC.
People v. Torricella
U.S. Park Police officer charged with weapons possession and menacing for allegedly displaying and threatening to harm his problematic teenage son. Found not guilty after trial.
People v. T. Williams
Client, an Air Force Veteran who resided in Virginia, was charged with illegally possessing five (5) firearms in NYC and was believed to be a firearms trafficker from Virginia. The District Attorney’s Office was originally seeking ten (10) years prison. Mr. Watford was able to demonstrate that all of the firearms were legally purchased by the client while he was an active member of the service. Mr. Watford filed a motion to dismiss all weapons charges which required mandatory prison time in the interest of justice due to the unique circumstances related to the client transporting the weapons with him during his visit to NYC. The judge granted the motion and dismissed all felony weapons charges.
People v. Dunkley
Drugs and weapons charges dismissed against client after it was demonstrated that the arresting officers illegally entered the home of the client and conducted a search of the residence which resulted in the recovery of the items. The officers were seeking to arrest the client’s boyfriend on a traffic violation warrant. Prior to the case being presented to the Grand Jury, Mr. Watford was able to convince the prosecutor that the outstanding warrant needed to be a felony warrant in order to permit the police to forcibly enter the residence of a third party and that there were no exigent circumstances that justified the entry or search of the premises.
People v. P. Byas
Felony gun possession charges dismissed on speedy trial grounds where during prosecution of the case, it was discovered that the arresting detective’s credibility was questionable. The gun was recovered in a car with 4 occupants and never processed for fingerprints or DNA evidence. During the prosecution it was also discovered that the arresting detective had several lawsuits and allegations filed against him for false arrest and fabricating evidence. Consequently, the DA never produced the arresting detective to testify at the pre-trial suppression hearing which ultimately violated the client’s right to a speedy trial.
People v. G. Williams
A NYC Correction Officer was charged with misdemeanor weapons possession for allegedly shooting a BB which shattered the window of the complainant’s car. At he suppression hearing Mr. Watford was able to demonstrate that the arresting officer’s search of the client’s car was illegal. The police admitted during the hearing that they searched he client’s vehicle minutes prior to the complainant arriving at the scene and identifying him as then perpetrator. The judge suppressed the BB gun and the all charges were dismissed.
People v. C. Williams
Client was charged with felony gun possession and facing a potential mandatory prison sentence of 16 years to life. At the suppression hearing, Mr. Watford was able to demonstrate that the arresting officers illegally seized the client without reasonable suspicion when the officer grabbed the client who refused to allow the police to enter the house after he answered the door. The officers subsequently kicked in the door and illegally pursued the client who allegedly threw an unidentifiable object which the police said was a firearm. After the hearing, the judge reviewed the memorandum of law submitted by Mr. Watford and granted the suppression motion.
Listed above are just some of the weapons possession cases we have handled for our clients. An experienced Weapons Possession Attorney in New York, NY knows exactly how to fight such charges to have the penalties reduced or dismissed. Attorney Gregory Watford has been practicing as a New York Weapons Possession Lawyer in New York, New York City, NYC, and New York County. He is a seasoned attorney with twenty five years of litigation experience and has been practicing as a Weapons Possession Attorney in New York City. He also has over ten years of law enforcement experience. So if you are looking for a Gun Possession Lawyer in NYC or a Weapons Possession Attorney in New York County, call the office of Watford Jackson, PLLC at 1-855-(928-5225) to Schedule a Case Evaluation. We can also assist you if you are looking for a Gun Possession Lawyer in Brooklyn County, Weapons Possession Attorney in Queens County or a Weapons Possession Lawyer in Bronx County.
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