In the state of New York, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony if you have a firearm in your possession. There are new laws that have recently been passed in the state that could result in what would have been considered a misdemeanor now being charged as a felony. This means that you would be sentenced to spend a longer time in prison and that you would have to pay higher fines. If you have been charged with possession of a firearm, then you should consider seeking the assistance of an attorney who can offer advice about how to accept a plea deal or whether you should face the court and offer evidence in your defense.
If you are found with any kind of firearm in your possession while in New York, then it would be considered a Class E felony. Examples of firearms that you could have in your possession include handguns, rifles, or any kind of assault weapon. However, if you have a permit to possess the firearm, then you likely won’t be charged unless you are a convicted felon. When you are stopped by an officer, you will usually be asked about your gun license to determine if you can legally have the weapon with you at the time.
If you are charged and convicted of felony possession of a firearm, then you could be sentenced to spend one to four years in prison. Fines could be up to $5,000. A misdemeanor conviction could result in up to a year in jail as well as fines of up to $1,000. An attorney can approach the court to ask that your sentence is at the lower end of the spectrum. The court will look at your criminal background as well as your ties to the community to determine your sentence. In some instances, your charge could be a misdemeanor instead of a felony if you’re in possession of a firearm for the first time and are arrested.
In New York, you are to register any firearm that you have. If you do not register the firearms that you own, then you could be charged with a felony. Many of the penalties that you face after being charged with this crime are the same as those that you would face if you had the gun in your possession.
When you go to court, the prosecution will bear the burden of having to prove that you actually had a firearm on your person at the time you were charged with the crime. This is when an attorney is beneficial because your attorney can approach the court to try to show that you did not have the firearm at the time. If you’re charged because you failed to register the firearm, then your attorney could offer defenses regarding not being aware that the gun wasn’t registered at the time or that you completed the paperwork and filed it with the proper office. You would need to be able to show that you have the proper documentation for your charges to be dismissed. Another component that the prosecution must be able to prove is that your firearm was operable at the time that you were found with it by the officer.
Keep in mind that a Class E felony is at the lower rung of felonies in New York. This means that you wouldn’t be sentenced to spend as long in prison as you would if you were charged with a felony of a higher class. However, an attorney would still be beneficial to have when you go to court so that you understand the charges and the sentence that you’re given and so that you have someone who can advise you as to whether you should accept a plea by the prosecution or go to trial.