New York Illegal Fire Arms Laws & Charges + Statute of Limitations

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Gun laws in the state of New York are complicated, as they are different to the firearms guidelines that are used in some other states. For example, in New York, there is no permit required to purchase a shotgun or rifle, but there is a permit required to carry or possess a revolver or pistol.

New York, just like every other state across America, uses federal laws and sophisticated networks of guidelines to determine exactly who should be allowed to carry a firearm, which firearm they are allowed to possess, how they can be carried, and when they can be used.

Laws and Penalties

In New York, the illegal possession of firearms is a serious crime. Criminal possession refers to circumstances wherein you own or carry a gun that you are not legally licensed or permitted to own or carry. There are many different levels to a conviction of criminal possession, for example:

  • A fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon charge might be used against someone who owned armor piercing ammunition, carried a firearm on school grounds, or owning a gun after having been deemed unsuitable for firearm ownership. A fourth degree offense is classed as a misdemeanor charge, and can carry a penalty of up to one year in jail.
  • A third degree charge for criminal possession of weapon, on the other hand, might apply in situations wherein the prosecution can prove that a defendant committed a fourth-degree possession offense and also has a criminal history, possesses more than three fire arms, or possesses a weapon outside of a business or home and has a previous conviction within the past five years. These offenses are regarded as a class D violent felony, and are capable of providing a penalty of up to 7 years in prison.
  • A second degree criminal possession charge is classed as violent felony that is class C, which carries a possible penalty of up to fifteen years in prison. To receive a conviction of this crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant possessed a loaded firearm, disguised gun, or machine gun with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person, or that he owns any loaded firearm or more than five firearms.
  • Finally, a first degree criminal possession of a weapon charge is the most serious and is classified as a class B violent felony, which carries a penalty of up to twenty-five years in prison. This charge is faced by defendants who possess more than ten firearms, or possess an explosive device with the intent to use it against another person, or that person’s property.

Aside from criminal possession charges, New York also imposes charges on those who criminally use a firearm outside of the instances deemed appropriate. For example, a second degree criminal use of a firearm charge is used when a person possesses a deadly weapon, or displayed that weapon to another with threatening cause. This charge can carry up to fifteen years in prison.

Illegal Fire Arms Defenses

Perhaps the best way to avoid a conviction in terms of illegal fire arms related crimes in New York, is to fully research and understand the current laws in place regarding your rights to carry and use firearms within that state. However, if you are charged with firearms possession in New York, then you will often find that the defense options available to you are dependent on your circumstances.

For those charged with criminally using a weapon, it is possible to argue a defense based on the Castle Doctrine, which dictates that any person is allowed by the law to act with deadly force when defending a person or themselves against a person who is using, or about to use deadly force against you.

Those convicted with illegally carrying a weapon usually use a defense in which they argue that they were not aware of the presence of the guns, or that the guns do not belong to them. It can be difficult to prove that firearms belong to a specific person, but if guns were found in your property, simply claiming they are not yours may not work as a successful defense.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, non-capital crimes that relate to gun possession, use, or importation have a very specific statute of limitations put in place by 18 USC 3282. This statute asserts that the statute of limitations is five years. However, it is important to note that violent offenses and capital crimes that are committed using an illegal firearm can easily be prosecuted after that five years is already over.

New York Illegal Fire Arms Cases