The Second Amendment is a hot topic right now, but do you know your gun rights as a New Yorker?
New York is a state with strict firearms legislation compared to many other states, but some rules about possession and permits are confusing, vague, or vary from county to county. Throughout the state, loaded rifles and shotguns are legal but prohibited in vehicles, and handguns are only permitted if the owner has a New York license. Permits from outside states are not recognized in New York.
With specific, but confusing legislation throughout the state, you may accidentally end up in a sticky situation with the police. What happens if you get pulled over and you’re carrying a gun illegally in a car? We have answers to a few different scenarios below.
You will be questioned.
This one is pretty obvious, right? The officers aren’t just going to send you on your way if you’re illegally carrying a gun. They will arrest you.
Whether or not you attempt to explain the reason an illegal gun is in your car, the officers will ask you questions about your possession and reasoning – before they arrest you. Questions may include who owns the gun, how you obtained the gun, and where you are headed in your car.
These questions may not seem serious, but the answers you give can be used against you in court. If it is determined that you possess the gun with intent to use unlawfully, your charge could become more serious. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and refrain from answering any of the officer’s questions.
Multiple people could be charged.
If you have passengers in your car when you are pulled over, the discovery of an illegal gun puts all of you in jeopardy. Everyone in the car could be charged and have to go to court if no one claims to own the firearm.
You may face serious consequences.
The severity of a criminal possession of a weapon charge varies, but it is not one to brush off. Criminal possession of a weapon may be considered a fourth degree misdemeanor, but it could easily become a class C or D felony. Potential sentences include anywhere from one to 15 years in jail, and at least one year in jail is a mandatory sentence for felony convictions involving firearms. If you are not an American citizen, a criminal possession of a weapon conviction can result in deportation, or you may be denied citizenship.
You can follow our visual charts for the processes following an arrest or charge in New York here.
Your case may be dropped.
It’s not all bad news necessarily. There is some hope in getting your case dropped. Cases are dropped because of the methods police used to discover your firearm. Search and seizure laws in New York are tricky. If the police pull you over for a minor traffic violation, that does not give them permission to search your car. In the case of an unlawful search and seizure, your case may be dropped.
It takes an experienced criminal defense lawyer to understand the ins and outs of search and seizure procedures, as well as illegal firearm possession and the resulting charges. If you have been charged after the police found an illegal firearm in your car, you should not wait to call a defense lawyer. Contact an experienced New York criminal attorney for a free consultation today.