Criminal Possession of a Weapon by a Juvenile in New York City
In New York, a person is considered a juvenile if they are between the ages of 7 and 16. When a juvenile commits an offense which would be considered a crime if that person were an adult, that person is labeled a “juvenile delinquent.” Juvenile delinquency cases are heard in Family Court instead of Criminal or Supreme Court. Persons over the age of 13 who commit more serious crimes may have their cases transferred to supreme, and if found guilty, would be labeled juvenile offenders, as opposed to juvenile delinquents.
If the case remains in family court, instead of the typical prosecutor bringing the charges, the New York City Law Department assigns an Assistant Corporation Counsel to prosecute the case. If your child has been accused of criminal possession of a weapon by a juvenile in New York City, the gun crime defense attorneys at our firm could help you build their case.
How Do Courts Prosecute Juvenile Weapon Possession?
Unlawful Possession of Weapons by Persons Under Sixteen, pursuant to NYPL § 265.05, is an offense which upon conviction would result in a person being labeled a juvenile delinquent. A minor who is in possession of any firearm, air-gun, spring-gun, or any dangerous knife, can be found guilty of this offense.
If the minor is deemed a juvenile delinquent, then the Family Court will make a determination about whether the offender is in need of supervision, treatment, or confinement. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and the Family Court judge making the determination will take into account all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as information about the offender generally, to determine what the appropriate sentence should be.
What Constitutes Possession of a Weapon in New York City?
Under New York Penal Law, a person is considered to be in possession of a firearm for the purposes of criminal prosecution if they knowingly had the weapon on their person or under their control. This standard applies whether the defendant is an adult or a minor, and it does not take into account whether the defendant was aware their actions were illegal.
Additionally, the weapon in question does not necessarily have to be loaded or brandished in public for its possession to be a criminal offense. Even if a minor is caught carrying an unloaded gun in a locked case, they may still wind up facing criminal prosecution.
When Could a Minor Legally Possess a Weapon in New York City?
While the law differs somewhat in the rest of the state, no one under 21 years of age can apply for or receive a license to buy, carry, or discharge a firearm in New York City. It is also illegal for anyone to knowingly transfer a firearm to someone under 21 years of age.
The only circumstances under which a minor can legally possess a firearm are if they are being directly supervised by someone with a legal permit, or if they are at a licensed firing range or participating in a shooting competition or military drill. In these specific situations, a minor can legally possess and use a rifle or shotgun.
Rights of Juvenile Defendants
Just like adult defendants, any minor accused of a criminal offense in New York City has the right to obtain legal counsel to help with their case. If a minor cannot afford their own attorney, legal counsel must be provided to them by the state. Furthermore, state law assumes a juvenile defendant cannot waive their right to counsel unless specific criteria are met.
As of October 1st, 2019, juvenile courts have jurisdiction over any offense a person allegedly commits prior to their 18th birthday. With few exceptions, no minor accused of a criminal possession of a weapon in New York City will ever be prosecuted as an adult.
Retain a New York City Attorney for Help with Charges for Criminal Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile
A sentence of confinement, while intending to rehabilitate, often times becomes the first step in a road leading through the revolving door of various law enforcement institutions. Juvenile delinquents who are confined are subject to a significant loss of freedom, and family visitation can take place only at the designated times. Too frequently, instead of preventing further criminal acts, confinement fosters associations with individuals who will be involved in serious felony arrests in the future.
Having a knowledgeable weapons and firearms attorney represent a minor at this cross-road in his or her life is crucial to getting the best possible outcome. The attorneys at our office are additionally experienced in family court and juvenile cases and understand the implications of juvenile delinquency. Call us today if your child is facing a criminal possession of a weapon by a juvenile charge.