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Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First Degree

Felony Defense Attorneys Serving Westchester County and Other Areas of New York

Weapon crimes in New York are aggressively prosecuted, and even more so if there are allegations of bomb plots or a large number of firearms. A defense for a first-degree criminal possession of a weapon charge should be undertaken by an experienced attorney who can untangle the allegations as well as manage any media coverage that the case attracts. At Tilem & Associates, our Westchester County weapon crime lawyers have defended many people against complex felony charges under New York and federal firearms laws. We can provide candid advice and assertive representation to defendants throughout the New York City area from our White Plains office.

First-Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon

In New York, criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree is not a commonly charged offense, but it remains a serious felony that carries hefty penalties. There are two situations that can lead to charges under the statute. The first involves a bomb or another explosive. In this instance, criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree occurs when a person knowingly possesses an explosive substance and intends to use it unlawfully against another person or property. An explosive substance may be a bomb, an incendiary or explosive device, or something else that is capable of exploding and causing death or injuries. Having a bomb or powerful explosive device in your possession may also result in additional terrorism-related or federal weapons charges.

In a criminal possession of a weapon case involving an explosive, the jury may infer that a defendant intended to use the explosive substance unlawfully against another person or another person’s property if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly possessed the explosive without a license or other authorization. The jury is not required to come to that conclusion, however. A potential defense strategy may involve presenting evidence to rebut the defendant’s intent, knowledge, or possession of the explosive substance. A defense attorney may also challenge any police misconduct, such as an illegal search or seizure.

The second part of the statute concerning criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree prohibits a person from knowingly possessing 10 or more firearms. A firearm is defined to include any pistol, revolver, sawed-off shotgun, or rifle, as well as certain semi-automatic firearms and other assault weapons. In essence, the law targets people who illegally possess a large amount of firearms, such as unauthorized firearm dealers. In these cases, the defendant may also face other charges, such as criminal possession of an illegal or unlicensed firearm, if he or she is not licensed or allowed to possess a gun, or if any of the guns is not registered.

To secure a conviction, the prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware that he or she was in possession of 10 or more firearms. Possession requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant had physical possession or the ability to exercise control over the firearm, but in some circumstances, the prosecution may allege constructive or presumptive possession in order to include more defendants. In addition, the prosecution must prove that at least 10 of the firearms were operable and capable of discharging ammunition.

Criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree is a class B felony in New York. If you are convicted, you will face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least five years, in addition to the possibility of up to 25 years in prison. If you have a prior conviction, the mandatory minimum sentence may be greater than five years. You may also be fined up to $30,000. As with any felony conviction, you will lose some of your civil rights, such as your right to vote and right to possess a gun.

Retain a Westchester County Lawyer to Defend Against a Weapons Charge

Contesting a first-degree criminal possession of a weapon charge should not be taken lightly. The gun crime defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates have 25 years of experience representing people in the Bronx and Queens, as well as Westchester, Kings, Nassau, Suffolk, Richmond, Rockland, and Putnam Counties. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your criminal charge by calling our office at 877-377-8666 or contacting us online.