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Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

Under New York weapons laws, a person commits a serious crime when he or she purchases or otherwise acquires a gun despite knowing that he or she is legally prohibited from possessing a gun due to a prior criminal conviction or some other disability that has rendered him or her ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun.

Buying a gun for someone prohibited from owning a gun is also illegal under this law, as is simply giving or “disposing of” a gun to someone prohibited from owning a gun.

Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon is a Class D felony under New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.17. An arrest for this charge may occur when a person buys or comes into possession of a gun when he or she is not authorized to do so. Both the buyer and seller (or giver and receiver) of a weapon that is part of any illegal transaction may result in a charge under this statute.

Penalties for a conviction of the criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon include up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, as well as the seizure and destruction of the weapon.

Attorney for Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon in Manhattan

If you were arrested for criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs of New York City, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A qualified attorney will be able to explain the charge and defenses that apply to the case.

At Greco Neyland, PC, we represent people arrested on criminal firearm charges in New York City. We take the time to investigate all of the facts in each case and to mount an aggressive defense.

With Greco Neyland, PC as your advocate, you will have former prosecutors fighting on your behalf, so we know how the process works. We represent clients in Manhattan (New York County), Brooklyn (Kings County), The Bronx, and the other boroughs of New York City. Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation.


Information about Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon in New York City


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Types of Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

A license is required in New York in order to possess a gun legally. New York City’s gun laws exist in addition to New York State’s gun laws and the city laws are more restrictive than the state laws, requiring registration with the city as well as the state.

A conviction for a previous crime may prohibit the convicted person from possessing a gun. Some people who were not convicted of a crime may also be legally barred from possessing a gun due to certain mental or physical conditions.

New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.17 states that a person is guilty of Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon when:

  • Knowing that he or she is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun because of a prior conviction or because of some other disability which would render him or her ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in (New York), such  person purchases a firearm, rifle or shotgun from another person (§ 265.17(1)); or
  • Knowing  that it would be unlawful for another person to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun, (a person) purchases a firearm, rifle or shotgun for, on behalf of, or for the use of such other person (§ 265.17(2)); or
  • Knowing that another person is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun because of a prior conviction or because of some other disability which would render him or her ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in (New York),  a person disposes of a firearm, rifle or shotgun to such other person (§ 265.17(3)).

In other words, a person who is prohibited from possessing a gun may not legally buy a gun, someone may not buy a gun for them, and someone may not “dispose of” a gun to him or her. In addition, previous cases have established that a gun must be “operable” in order to obtain a conviction.

A related offense, aggravated criminal possession of a weapon, involves loaded weapons and is a Class C felony, with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.


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Definitions of Terms Related to Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

Several key terms in the law are legally defined in the statutes, including knowing, possess, firearm, rifle, shotgun, prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, dispose of and operable.

Under N.Y. P.L. Part 1, Title B, Article 15.05(2), a person “knowingly” possesses a firearm when that person is “aware” that he or she is in possession of a firearm.

Under the law, “possess” means to have physical possession or otherwise to exercise dominion or control over tangible property (N.Y. P.L. Part 1, Title A, Article 10.00(8)).

Possession may be “actual” or “constructive.” Actual possession occurs when the police discover a weapon on a person or his or her belongings and no one else has equal access to it. Constructive possession occurs when more than one person has access to a weapon, such as a weapon in a drawer or glove box of a vehicle when more than one person has access to it.

A “firearm” is defined in N.Y. P.L. § 265.00(3) as “any pistol or revolver.” Rifles and shotguns are also considered to be “firearms” under N.Y. P.L. § 265.17, but an “antique firearm” is not.

“Rifle” means “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.” (N.Y. P.L. § 265.00(11)).

“Shotgun” means “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.” (N.Y. P.L. § 265.00(12)).

(See N.Y. P.L. § 265.00 for definitions of other weapons.)

Since New York’s weapons laws do not impose a complete ban on handguns, it is not a “severe restriction” improperly infringing on a defendant’s rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (See People v Mitchell, 129 A.D.3d 1319, 11 NYS 3d 731 (3d Dep’t 2015)).

Thus, a person has no legal right to possess a firearm in New York, with certain exceptions granted under N.Y. Penal Law Article 400 (Licensing and Other Provisions Related to Firearms), which include proper licensing and usage.

Therefore, a person is “not authorized pursuant by law to possess a firearm” when that person “has no legal right to possess a firearm,” such as when a person possesses a gun without a proper license or licenses, if a person has been convicted of certain previous crimes, or because of some other disability which would render him or her ineligible to lawfully possess a firearm.

“Dispose of” means “to dispose of, give, give away, lease, loan, keep for sale, offer, offer for sale, sell, transfer and otherwise dispose of.” (N.Y. P.L. § 265.00(6)).

A firearm does not need to be loaded for a person to be charged under this law, but the firearm must be “operable.” To be operable, a firearm must be “capable of discharging ammunition,” although previous court cases have established that the possessor of a gun does not need to know if the gun was operable in order to be charged.


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Elements of Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

In order for a defendant to be found guilty of a charge of Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon under N.Y. P.L. § 265.17, a judge or jury must find that a person, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Disposed of a firearm, rifle or shotgun on or about a certain date in a specific county;
  • That the defendant did so, knowing that (a specific person) was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun because of a prior conviction or because of some (other) disability which would render him or her ineligible to lawfully possess a (specific weapon) in the state of New York; and
  • The firearm, rifle or shotgun was operable.

N.Y. P.L. §265.17 applies to offenses committed on or after March 16, 2013.


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Penalties for Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

The Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon is a Class D Violent Felony Offense in New York. A Class D violent felony is punishable upon conviction by:

  • Up to seven years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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Resources Related to Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon

New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.17 — Read the New York State law pertaining to criminal purchase or disposal of weapon.

Jury Instructions for Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon — Visit the website of the New York State Unified Court System to find the standard criminal jury instructions (CJI) for Penal Law Offenses, including criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon on or after March 16, 2013.


Attorney for Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon in New York City

If you were arrested in New York City for Criminal Purchase or Disposal of a Weapon under N.Y. P.L. § 265.17, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The skilled criminal defense lawyers in New York at Greco Neyland, PC are experienced in defending charges of criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon. Our attorneys will work with you at each stage of the case.

We serve clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Contact the dedicated lawyers at Greco Neyland, PC today by calling (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation about your weapon charges.

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