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Criminal Use of a Firearm

Westchester County Lawyers for Defendants Charged with Weapons Offenses

When guns are involved in a violent crime, the person accused will likely face multiple felony charges in New York, including criminal use of a firearm. If you have been charged under circumstances such as these, a Westchester County gun crime attorney can help you develop a strategy to potentially avoid harsh and unnecessary penalties. At Tilem & Associates, we are committed to defending individuals against weapons charges. We have the experience to help you assert your rights and fight for a fair outcome in your case.

New York Offenses for Criminal Use of a Firearm

Under the New York Penal Law, a person can be convicted of criminal use of a firearm when they carry out a class B or class C felony violent crime, and either possess a loaded firearm, or display what appears to be a firearm. Criminal use of a firearm is a stand-alone criminal offense, typically charged along with the predicate felony offense. However, criminal use of a firearm cannot be charged when the underlying crime is an armed felony offense. In addition to the underlying felony, the prosecution must prove either one of the two situations covered under the statute.

For offenses involving a loaded firearm, the count would be criminal use of a firearm while in possession of a deadly weapon. This applies when the defendant committed any class C or B felony violent offense, and knowingly possessed a deadly weapon that was loaded, and from which a shot, which can lead to death or other serious physical injury, may be discharged. While the defendant must be aware that they had a deadly weapon, it does not matter whether or not they knew the gun was loaded or capable of discharging.

Criminal use of a firearm while displaying a weapon is covered under the second subsection of the statute. It applies when the defendant committed a class B or C violent felony offense, and displayed what appeared to be a revolver, pistol, rifle, machine gun, shotgun, or other firearm. The prosecution does not need to prove that the object displayed was actually a firearm, only that the defendant consciously displayed or showed something that could reasonably be perceived to be a gun, and that the victim of the underlying offense perceived it as such. A knowledgeable gun crimes attorney can evaluate whether the prosecution may be able to meet the burden of proof in your case in relation to this kind of allegation.

First Degree Criminal Use of a Firearm

Criminal use of a firearm may be charged in the first or second degree. Criminal use of a firearm in the first degree applies when the underlying offense is a class B violent felony. There are many class B violent felony offenses articulated under New York law, including attempted murder in the second degree, attempted kidnapping in the first degree, first degree assault, burglary or robbery in the first degree, and rape. Criminal use of a firearm in the first degree is a class B felony offense. The penalties for a conviction may include a prison sentence of 5 to 25 years and a fine up to $5,000. The defendant may be also subject to an enhanced sentence in certain situations, and/or mandatory minimum penalties.

Second Degree Criminal Use of a Firearm

Second degree criminal use of a firearm applies when the predicate offense is a class C violent felony. Some examples of class C violent felonies are aggravated sexual abuse in the second degree, burglary or robbery in the second degree, second degree aggravated manslaughter, and attempt to commit any class B felony. Criminal use of a firearm in the second degree is a class C felony, punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a fine.

Contact a Westchester County Attorney About Charges for Criminal Use of a Firearm

If you are facing charges for criminal use of a firearm, a Westchester County defense lawyer can help you protect your rights. At Tilem & Associates, we represent people in criminal cases in Queens and Bronx, as well as Nassau, Richmond, Suffolk, Putnam, and Rockland Counties. Request a free consultation by calling 877-377-8666 or contacting us online.

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