New York Criminal Possession of a Weapon at New York Airports
Far from uncommon, police officers in Queens and other jurisdictions routinely make arrests in New York after a non–resident of New York wrongfully believes he or she can possess a firearm (pistol, revolver, handgun, etc.) in this state. Unfortunately, the harsh reality for these people is that if they possess that loaded firearm in Queens at LaGuardia Airport or JFK Airport and they did not have a license in New York to do so, they will be charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 265.03 (CPW 2).
What is more troubling for these people is that often times they are properly checking the weapon at LaGuardia or JFK Airports in an approved case where the ammunition or bullets are not physically loaded in the gun. These people wrongfully believe that (a) they are permitted to have a firearm in New York because they are licensed in their home state and (b) because they are declaring or checking the firearm and were not stopped when it was brought to New York, they have not perpetrated any crime.
Not only are the above assumptions completely incorrect in the eyes of New York Penal Law Article 265, but the crime of New York Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison even if you have no record at all.
One of the most common reactions individuals charged with CPW 2 have is that they had no idea it was a crime to bring their otherwise licensed gun into New York (ignorance of the law is no defense). Some argue that the gun never left the carrying case or the hotel room. Others mistakenly claim that since the bullets were not in the cylinder or chamber or that the clip or cartridge was not in the gun, the firearm is not loaded. Despite this logical assertion, New York law is clear. If the firearm is capable of being loaded, then the firearm is considered loaded. In other words, the ammunition in the carrying case with the firearm will likely be sufficient.
An arrest for New York Penal Law 265.03 is a terrifying experience, but often compounded when one is not from New York and they are at JFK or LaGuardia Airport ready to head home. Unfortunately, that person is now facing the grim reality that they will be processed in Queens Central Booking for up to 24 hours. To make matters worse, they are accused of committing a violent crime in New York where they may have been free to act in the same way without any legal troubles in their home state.
If you are charged with New York Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree for possessing a gun, firearm, pistol, revolver, handgun or any other weapon, seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to help expedite you through the system if possible, assist you through the bail process if necessary and, most importantly, to zealously advocate for you so that your honest mistake does not have life altering consequences.