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, state 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 firearm-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 Some Types of Gun Offenses?
New York strictly regulates the use of firearms and applies strict penalties when guns are used in a crime. There are criminal offenses that center on owning, possessing, or selling a firearm. Some of these offenses include:
- Criminal possession of a firearm
- Criminal use of a firearm
- Possession or sale of a 3D printed firearm
- Arms trafficking
- Unlawful sale of a firearm
- Carrying a firearm on school property
- Carrying an unlicensed handgun
These weapons charges can carry steep penalties like jail time, fines, and the loss of the right to own a firearm. Thankfully, conviction on these gun offenses is never guaranteed, especially with the help of a Westchester County attorney.
Firearm Registration Requirements
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
A gun defense attorney in Westchester County could help someone make sure that they satisfy all firearm registration requirements.
What is the “Safe Storage” Law?
There are also strict laws regarding the storage of firearms in Westchester County. According to the “Safe Storage” law, gun owners could face criminal charges if they fail to secure their firearms when living with a person under the age of 16. Firearms must be locked out and kept out of reach of minors under the age of 16 at all times.
A violation of the safe storage law is a misdemeanor. Upon a conviction, a gun owner could face a fine of up to $250 and as much a year behind bars. There are also fines for failing to lock up a firearm when a young child is visiting the home of a gun owner.
Use of a Firearm as an Aggravating Factor
The use of a firearm is also an aggravating factor in many other criminal charges. 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
- Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the first-degree
- Burglary in the second-degree
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 for a conviction. An attorney in Westchester County could prepare a defense if criminal charges were elevated due to the alleged presence of a gun.
What Defenses Can a Defendant Raise in a Gun Crime Case?
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 work all layers of a gun case in defending against a charge.
Is it Possible to Restore Gun Rights?
It is possible to restore gun rights following a felony conviction in some cases. The most straightforward option is through a pardon issued by the Governor of New York. However, gun rights can also be restored through something known as a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Good Conduct. The document must spell out that these rights are restored. This option is not available to anyone convicted of violent of Class A-1 felonies.
How Westchester County Gun Attorneys 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 firearm. Firearm defense attorneys could work to thoroughly examine the facts of the case and effectively cross-examine witnesses to build a defense.