Weapon charges are offenses that involve the use or possession of weapons. Weapon charges are used to prevent gun crimes and the possession of specific weapons by certain people. If you are charged for a gun crime or weapons possession, you need to consult a lawyer immediately. Read on to learn about the gun laws, the implication of a weapons charge, the different degrees of gun crimes, and the defense for a weapon possession charge.
Following the 2012 Elementary School massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, many states modified their gun control laws. New York was one of the states that were the first to enact stronger gun laws. The New York Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement Act was passed in 2013. The provisions of the SAFE Act include:
- Prohibiting the possession of high capacity magazines
- Requiring gun dealers to conduct background checks on those purchasing guns
- The creation of a registry for assault weapons
- Requiring stolen guns to be reported within 24 hours
What is a Weapon Charge?
In many states, weapon charges are divided into two: weapon possession and weapon use.
A person can be charged for possessing an unlawful weapon regardless of whether someone saw the weapon or someone was hurt or threatened by the weapon. Some of the illegal weapons include shot guns, brass knuckles, switch blade knives, and pepper spray. All states restrict certain people from accessing weapons. For example, many states do not allow convicted felons to be in possession of fire arms.
If the prosecution can prove that you were in possession of an unlawful weapon and you exercised custody, control, and care of the weapon, you can be convicted for a weapons charge.
The second type of weapons charge is using a weapon to execute an offense. Crimes committed using weapons are called aggravated offenses. For example, rape turns into aggravated sexual assault if a weapon is displayed or used during the execution of the crime. In many states, there is no need for actual injury for a crime to qualify as aggravated. In most cases, displaying a weapon for intimidation is enough. The term aggravated is used before an offense to imply that a weapon was used during the commission of that offense.
Degrees of Weapons Possession Crimes
Weapon possession in gun cases is divided into degrees: Weapon possession in the second, third, and fourth degrees. Second degree weapons possession is a “Class C” felony, while possessions in the third and fourth degree are “Class D” felonies and “Class A” misdemeanors respectively.
A “Class C” felony is the most serious gun possession offense and subjects one to up to 15 years of imprisonment. A “Class D” felony subjects one to a maximum of 7 years of imprisonment while a “Class A” misdemeanor subjects one to a maximum of 1 year in prison. If you hurt someone, while using the gun – you can be sued by a personal injury lawyer.
Defense for Weapon Possession
The most common defense that your lawyer will use in a weapons possession charge is to prove you were not in possession of the alleged weapon. The defendant can deny any links with the weapon. For example, where an unregistered gun is found in a vehicle, you can argue that you were only a passenger in the vehicle, and that you had no knowledge about the weapon.
The other defense that your lawyer will use is to prove that the weapon is not unlawful. This defense is commonly used when defending the possession of a knife. In many states, collector or decorative knives are not considered to be illegal weapons.