Westchester County Gun Lawyer
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to bear arms. However, many states, New York included among them, have severely limited this right through the criminalization of illegal gun ownership.
In fact, New York law creates a presumption that a firearm is held illegally.The use of a firearm is also an aggravating factor in many other criminal activities.Westchester County gun lawyers represent those facing various types of gun-related charges in New York’s criminal courts. A qualified defense attorney could fight to disprove the prosecution’s case and maintain a person’s rights and freedom.
What are New York’s Gun Laws?
New York Penal Law §265.01-b creates the crime of Criminal Possession of a Firearm. It states that it is illegal for any person to possess a firearm unless that firearm is properly registered according to New York law. A violation of this statute is a Class E felony. This means that a conviction can result in a maximum prison sentence of four years, but first-time offenders are generally treated less harshly.
New York Penal Law §400 (16-a) outlines the registration requirements. All firearms, regardless of type, intended purpose, or means of acquisition must be registered with the State Police. This registration contains the owner’s:
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- A description of the weapon
Use of a Firearm as an Aggravating Factor
The use of a firearm is also an aggravating factor in many other criminal charges. Of course, a firearm is considered a deadly weapon. Even if the firearm is properly registered with the State, its use for a criminal purpose is illegal.
For example, an assault that involves the use of a firearm is automatically treated as an Assault in the Second-Degree at a minimum under New York Penal Law §120.05. This makes an otherwise misdemeanor level assault a Class D felony charge.
Other prominent examples of this include:
- Robbery in the first-degree New York Penal Law §160.15
- Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the first-degree New York Penal Law §130.65
- Burglary in the second-degree New York Penal Law §140.25
Any of these acts contain an otherwise illegal action that is made worse by the use of a firearm. That firearm does not need to be discharged, the mere threat of its use is sufficient.
What Defenses Can a Defendant Raise?
The most obvious defense against an illegal possession of a firearm charge is to prove that the gun was in fact registered. Sad to say, it is not uncommon for police departments and prosecutors to overlook this database when making an arrest. If a defendant can prove that the gun was legally owned, those charges can be dropped.
If the defendant is facing other charges related to the use of a gun the case becomes more complex. One useful defense strategy is to argue that the defendant never used a firearm. Witnesses to alleged crimes tend to panic or can lose recollection over time. They may think that they saw a defendant threatening them with a gun but what they really saw was a defendant with a hand in their pocket. Westchester County gun attorneys work all layers of a case in defending against a charge.
How Westchester County Gun Lawyers Can Help
Some gun charges are simple misunderstandings. For example, the firearm in question was properly registered and lazy police work led to an arrest. Most other charges are connected to other criminal accusations.
In these cases, a Westchester County gun lawyer could work to disprove both the underlying charge and the attached allegations involving the use of a gun. Gun attorneys could work to thoroughly examine the facts of the case and effectively cross-examine witnesses to build a defense.