New York Criminal Possession of a Weapon at New York Airports

Far from uncommon, police officers in Queens and other jurisdictions routinely make arrest after a non–resident of New York or NYC wrongfully believes he or she can possess a firearm (pistol, revolver, handgun, etc.) in the State of New York. Unfortunately, the harsh reality for these otherwise law abiding people is that if they possess that loaded firearm in Queens at LaGuardia Airport or JFK Airport and they did not have a license, permit or legal registration to do so, the New York Penal Law does not differentiate this act from arrests involving illegal guns carried on the streets of any city throughout the state. If the firearm is loaded as a matter of law, not necessarily physically, expect the Port Authority Police at one of these two airports to arrest you for and charge you with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 265.03. Even if you firearm is unloaded or you have no ammunition at all, you are not free from a felony arrest and prosecution. In this latter scenario you will still find yourself in Queens County Criminal Court awaiting arraignment, but on the crime of Criminal Possession of a Firearm pursuant to New York Penal Law 265.01-b(1).

Unfortunate Reality, Real Concerns, and Criminal Consequences

What is extremely troubling for people charged with either PL 265.03 or PL 265.01-b(1) is that often time 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. In fact, if you are accused of this crime you likely checked with the TSA, your airline and even travelled with the weapon before. Although you have no learned you are wrong, its reasonable that (a) you believed you were permitted to have a firearm in New York because you are licensed in your home state and (b) because you are declaring or checking the firearm leaving Queens, and you had no issues checking and traveling with the same gun flying into New York, you have committed no crime or any wrongdoing.

Not only are the above assumptions completely incorrect in the eyes of New York Penal Law Article 265, but be prepared to brace what is no doubt unexpected. If convicted of Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon you face a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison even if you have no record at all. On the other end, your maximum exposure is fifteen years. Not quite as serious, but terrifying nonetheless, a conviction for Criminal Possession of a firearm can result in four years imprisonment. Even if a judge is sympathetic of your plight, whether you are a teacher, physician, stay-at-home mother, college student, investment banker or unemployed the penalties and punishment is the same.

The Non-Defenses: Ignorance of the Law and No Bullets in the Firearm

One of the most common reactions individuals charged with both Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Firearm share with their respective criminal lawyers after getting over the shock of their arrest is that they had no idea it was a crime to bring their otherwise licensed gun into New York. Again, ignorance of the law is no defense. Some people argue that since the bullets were not in the cylinder or chamber or that the clip or cartridge was not in the gun, the firearm was 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, but if it is not, you may have a defense to NY PL 265.03, but you would still be subject to NY PL 265.01-b(1).

An arrest for either Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon or Criminal Possession of a Firearm is a terrifying, demoralizing, and horrific experience, but often compounded when the wrong steps are taken post-arrest. Unfortunately, while you are now facing the grim reality the police will process you through Queens Central Booking for up to 24 hours before seeing a criminal court judge at 125-10 Queens Blvd., there are still many more issues you must face before you can escape the grasp of the criminal justice system.

Be neither foolish nor angry, but rational and diligent when identifying the steps you need to take to come out unscathed or without a criminal record. If you are charged with any felony 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, 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.

Day or night, the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC are prepared to offer their experience, knowledge and advocacy to guide your through this process and implement the best defense you need to move past what is likely the worst time of your life.

Call the New York airport firearm lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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