New York Gun Charges

The most common gun charge in New York is the criminal possession of a weapon. The next most common charge is the criminal sale of a firearm. The third most frequent charge is the criminal use of a firearm, which is reserved for a gun that is used, brandished, or discharged.

Each of those charges has their own different category. The category of a firearm charge could be in the fourth, third, second, or first degree. If you are facing New York gun charges, seek the services of a seasoned gun lawyer today.

Possession of a Firearm

In New York, possession of a firearm is like possession of anything illegal and ranges from the obvious to the nuanced. Where if a member of law enforcement takes a firearm out of somebody's hand, clearly, there is no contest about possession. However, there is a gray area where if a person is driving a car that is not theirs and a gun is found in the trunk, the person can technically be charged because the operator of the vehicle is determined to know and be in possession of anything in the car. In this case, it could be difficult for the prosecutor to prove to a jury that the driver had concrete knowledge of the existence of the gun.

Possession can be a difficult charge to prove for a prosecutor. Just because a person is physically near a gun, that does not mean they know it is there. This is why someone facing New York gun charges may want to obtain an experienced defense attorney.

Does the Individual Have to Have the Gun on Their Person to be Charged?

A person does not need to have the gun on their person to be charged. It is easier for law enforcement and prosecutors to charge someone if they recover a gun from the defendant’s person, but possession can be anything from the gun being in the person’s hand to being in a place where the individual has dominion and control over the weapon.

If a person lives in an apartment by themselves and a gun is found in a shoebox under their bed while they are at work, they are going to be considered in possession of that gun even though they were not in the apartment at the time the gun was found. There are several ways that law enforcement and prosecutors can legally charge someone with possessing a firearm even if the firearm is not found on their person.

Conspiracy to Violate New York Gun Laws

Conspiracy means that two or more people have come together and made a decision to violate a law and have taken an overt act in furtherance of that decision. When guns are involved, there is usually a conspiracy to sell guns. A conspiracy to possess a firearm is legally possible, but rare. More frequently, conspiracy relates to gun selling organizations that conspire to import guns into New York and sell them. The conspiracy is the agreement that individuals procure guns, bring them to New York, and sell them. It is not the actual sale that makes the conspiracy charge, it is the agreement to do it.

Other Offenses that may be Charged Alongside Gun Crimes

It is possible for someone facing New York gun charges to also be charged with another criminal offense. If a gun is used in another crime, they will likely be charged with more than just the weapons possession offense. Sometimes people steal or assault another person and during the arrest, a firearm is found.

How New York Gun Charges are Prosecuted

The trend with New York gun charges is that these cases are being taken more seriously than in previous years. Gun cases have always been handled cautiously by prosecutors, but currently, some district attorney's offices in Brooklyn and the Bronx attach mandatory minimum penalties for firearms possession cases. For example, in Brooklyn, regardless of one’s criminal record and the situation, if they are caught with a gun, the minimum offer is two years jail and two years post-release supervision. The penalties may go up if there are aggravating circumstances surrounding the possession of a firearm.

The district attorney's offices deal with New York gun charges more harshly because of the level of gun violence that is in the city. Presently, there is a real push to curb gun violence by cracking down on gun possession.