NY criminal law: 3 in Bronx charged with criminal possession of weapons

In the predawn hours of a November day in 2013, police entered a Bronx apartment in execution of a search warrant. News sources report that law enforcement found an AK-47 assault rifle and an ammunition stash in the home. Arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon were three defendants in their 20s who lived in there.

The impact of Newtown on New York

New York has a history of tough and complex weapon and gun crime laws, which were tightened even further after the 2012 Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings. The newly passed Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, known as the SAFE Act, tightens control of assault weapons and high capacity magazines in New York.

Scope of New York weapons crimes

New York weapons laws focus on three types of illegal acts: possession, use and sale of firearms and ammunition, and of other types of dangerous weapons like certain knives, blunt-force instruments, explosives and more.

Criminal possession of a weapon

The defendants in the recent Bronx arrest face charges of criminal possession of a weapon, a crime that can be charged in four different degrees, from first degree, the most serious, to fourth degree, the least. It is not clear which degrees were charged in that incident, but the specific characteristics of each criminal possession degree are very detailed.

In this crime of criminal weapons possession, the degrees get more serious considering elements like how many weapons are possessed, how dangerous the weapon is, whether a firearm is loaded, whether the defendant had the intention to use the weapon, whether the defendant is a citizen, whether the defendant has previous criminal convictions; secrecy and concealment; whether the defendant committed another serious crime at the same time; and more.

Other New York weapons crimes

Examples of other weapons crimes in New York:

  • Unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds
  • Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
  • Possession of an unloaded firearm on school grounds or on a school bus
  • Possession, use or manufacture of a "disguised gun"
  • Criminal possession of a firearm
  • And more

New Yorkers are also subject to very serious federal weapons and firearms charges in certain situations.

Sentencing and punishment

A conviction for a state weapons crime in New York will likely carry a term of imprisonment, a fine or both. Judges have some discretion and look mainly the severity of the crime, the circumstances of the crime and the defendant's criminal record. However, there may be a minimum or maximum prison sentence limiting the judge's discretion. In some cases, probation may be an option.

Legal counsel crucially important

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is for anyone charged with a weapons or firearms crime in the Bronx, elsewhere in New York City or anywhere in New York state to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible. New York weapons charges can be extremely complex legally and a defense attorney who is well versed in the intricacies of the Penal Law will be understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you and can provide a vigorous defense.

The severe penalties for conviction make strong legal counsel imperative.