In the state of New York, possession of a firearm can find you facing a felony conviction. When it comes to firearms, the least serious felony charge is criminal possession of a firearm. Under New York’s Penal Code 265.01-b, you can be charged with the crime if you possess a firearm but there are no additional factors that would contribute to the offense being considered a more serious felony.
What is Considered a Firearm?
The New York Penal Code 265.01-b considers the following as a firearm:
• Any type of pistol or revolver
• A shotgun that consists of one or more barrels measuring in at less than 18 inches in length
• A rifle that consists of one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length
• Any weapon made from a rifle or shotgun
• An assault weapon
However, it should be noted that any antique firearm does not fall under any of the above categories for the purpose of a criminal possession of a firearm charge.
Examples of Criminal Possession of a Firearm Under New York’s Penal Code 265.01-b
An example of criminal possession of a firearm is that a man is driving down an empty street in the wee hours of the morning and a police officer spots him and finds it odd to see a vehicle there at that time of night. The officer pulls the man over and pats him down to search him. During the pat down search, the police officer discovers that the man has a firearm hidden on his person and arrests him. However, at the same time, the man would probably not be charged with the crime of criminal possession of a firearm under the New York Penal Code 265.01-b because the police officer didn’t have probable cause to stop him for a search. The search, in this case, is unlawful, which would mean that the officer finding the weapon would be inadmissible as evidence.
Another example is police going into someone’s home to search it for something specific, such as drugs. A married couple allows two police officers to enter their home for the search while claiming there are no drugs there. However, during the search, one of the officers digs through a dresser drawer and uncovers a pistol hidden among articles of clothing in one of the drawers. The officer subsequently arrests both the husband and wife of criminal possession of a firearm. In this case, the evidence would be admissible because the couple allowed the officers to enter their home to perform a search.
Defenses for Criminal Possession of a Firearm
One of the possible defenses for the charge of criminal possession of a firearm under New York Penal Code 265.01-b is that the police discovered the firearm during a search but that the search was unlawful. For example, if a person was driving normally and was stopped by a police officer for no apparent reason and the officer searched the vehicle or the individual and found a gun, it would be considered an unlawful search. If you are in such a situation, your NYC criminal attorney would argue that the officer’s search was illegal, which would mean the charge of criminal possession of a firearm would be thrown out.
Penalties for Criminal Possession of a Firearm
Criminal possession of a firearm is considered to be a class E felony. A person convicted of the crime can face a maximum prison term of four years. Usually, the sentence includes a fine and five years of probation. However, the judge will determine your sentence based on other factors, such as criminal history. A first-time offender will see less severe penalties than someone who has a prior criminal history.