In the state of New York, including in New York City, the discharge of a firearm generally is considered illegal. If you are charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in New York, you face the prospect of criminal prosecution that can result in a fairly significant penalty.
What Constitutes a Firearm for the Purposes of the Law?
A number of different types of weapons fall into the category of what constitutes a firearm for the purposes of an unlawful discharge. These include a shotgun, handgun, rifle, or automatic weapon. In addition, any weapon that fires any type of projectile is likely to be considered a firearm for the purposes of a prosecution under the illegal discharge law in New York.
Exceptions to Illegal Discharge
There are some limited circumstances in which the discharge of a firearm is not deemed illegal in the state of New York. Situations in which a firearm lawfully can be discharged include hunting, target practice, use in the line of official duty, and self-defense.
Legal Possession of a Firearm Does Not Make Discharge Legal
The fact that a person lawfully owns a firearm does not mean that he or she can lawfully discharge the weapon. In New York, absent using a lawfully-owned firearm within the parameters set forth a moment ago, a discharge can be illegal because it occurs in the proximity of another person, a motor vehicle, a school, or a residential dwelling.
Discharge of a Firearm and Associate Crimes
A common occurrence in New York is that a person is charged with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in relation to a related or associated case. In other words, in some instances, an unlawful discharge of a firearm allegation is used to enhance criminal charges being lodged against a person in a case.
Examples of other types of criminal charges that oftentimes are associated with the unlawful discharge of a firearm in New York include murder, assault, car jacking, robbery, drug-related offenses, felon in possession of a firearm, gang-related crimes, illegal hunting activity, domestic assault, or terrorism.
The addition of a firearm charge like this adds to the potential penalty in a case in and of itself. However, an unlawful discharge charge added to an associated criminal charge can actually enhance the specific sentence associated with the companion criminal charge.
Federal and State Charges
The unlawful discharge of a firearm is a crime that can be prosecuted on both the state and federal levels. The venue in which an unlawful discharge of a firearm is prosecuted depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case at hand. Keep in mind that it is possible for a person to end up prosecuted on both the state and federal levels for an unlawful discharge of a firearm matter, particularly if here are associate charges violating both state and federal law.
Penalties for Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
The penalties for unlawful discharge of a firearm depend in part on the facts of a specific case as well as a defendant’s prior criminal history, if any. On the state level, in New York a person convicted of the unlawful discharge of a firearm can face anywhere from 18 months to seven years in prison. If the case is brought on the federal level, a defendant can face up to a 10 year term of incarceration.
Monetary penalties can be imposed in an unlawful discharge of a firearm case as well. In addition, if there a defendant can also face a restitution order, depending on whether any financial losses were incurred because of the incident.
Retain Experienced Legal Representation
A person facing charges associated with the unlawful discharge of a firearm best protects his or her rights and interests by retaining the services of a skilled, experienced New York criminal defense attorney. A New York criminal defense lawyer will schedule a initial consultation with a person facing unlawful discharge charges at no cost to the potential client.
When facing charges of unlawful discharge of a firearm, a person needs to be proactive when retaining legal counsel. The reality is that a case tends to move quickly in the New York criminal justice system, and there is no time to spare in seeking a criminal defense attorney.