Weapons possession, including possession of firearms and possession of explosives/bombs, is a very serious crime, especially in New York state and even more so in New York City. But there are varying degrees of weapons possession charges, each with greater or lesser severity in penalties. However, relative to many other states and cities, both New York and NYC have attempted over the years to prevent any attempts at possessing weapons unlawfully or with an intent to hurt people or destroy property by legislating, policing, and prosecuting according to strict weapons possession laws.
5 Weapons Possession Facts in New York
From specific NYC laws about long guns to inconsistencies in weapons possession jail sentencing throughout all the boroughs, there are many things that you might not know about these charges. Here are five facts about weapons possession that are little known by most civilians:
- Illegal possession of a firearm is the most common (and most serious) weapons-related crime in New York—Firearms include the following items per the New York Penal Code:
- Semi-automatic pistols
- “Sawed-off” shotguns (barrel less than 18 inches in length)
- “Sawed-off” rifles (barrel less than 16 inches in length)
- Rifles and shotguns less than 26 inches long
Illegal possession of a firearm is when you are found with such a firearm, and it is not properly registered. This would include even if the gun on your person is not yours.
- Section 265 of the New York Penal Code’s Definition of Weapons—Firearms are not the only dangerous weapons that you might possess that could lead to your arrest. According to the Code, any “dangerous instruments” can be considered weapons for weapons possession charges, especially if they can be or are used to cause harm or death to other people or destruction to property. For instance, common knives purchased at hardware stores, if used in a dangerous or threatening way, can lead to such charges. Also, while New York law does not consider long guns firearms, they are still dangerous instruments that can cause damage.
- NYC-specific penalties concerning long guns—The state of New York’s penalties and definitions of long guns are not as serious as firearms, which result in a misdemeanor for criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. However, New York City itself overrides some penalties surrounding long guns in general, resulting in small fines and up to 30 days in jail for possessing unloaded long guns in public or fines of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail for possession of a loaded long gun in public.
- Sentencing inconsistencies for weapons possession convictions between the boroughs—A recent study suggests that Manhattan has some of the most severe weapons possession convictions in the city, at a little more than 61 percent, while Brooklyn only has about a fourth of their weapons-related convictions at the highest degree. These discrepancies in jail sentences between the boroughs are disturbing to many residents who fear prejudices with juries and negligent or permissive prosecution according to the law.
- Weapons charges in New York involving minors 16 and younger and/or school ground activity with weapons—Taking its cue from increasingly common mass school shootings, New York does not take any risks with this and set the ground rules for serious prosecution of anyone involved in such actions, regardless of not being 18 years old.
Contact a New York Criminal Defense Lawyer
Regardless of the weapons possession charges that you may be facing, whether they are especially severe or fairly minor, you will need a qualified NYC criminal defense attorney to guide you through the legal process. Call Joey Jackson Law, PLLC, at 833-563-9522 to schedule a private case evaluation to learn how he and his team can use their experience, knowledge, and winning strategies to help you avoid a conviction.