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Criminal Possession of a Handgun in New York

New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S. The laws in New York City are even tougher than the State laws.

Illegal possession of a firearm in the fourth degree, which includes any pistol or revolver, is a Class A misdemeanor in New York under N.Y. Penal Law 265.01(1). The charge usually applies to first-time offenders. Misdemeanor charges are seldom filed in handgun possession cases in New York City. Instead, criminal possession of a handgun is usually filed as a felony charge.

Penalties for a misdemeanor conviction of a Criminal Possession of a Weapon (CPW 4) in the Fourth Degree include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, as well as the confiscation and subsequent destruction of the gun by law enforcement.

Fourth Degree Criminal Handgun Possession Attorney in Manhattan

If you were arrested for criminal possession of a gun in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs of New York City, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to assist you with building a strong defense. A qualified attorney will be able to explain the charge and help you find the best possible resolution to your situation.

At Greco Neyland, PC, we represent people arrested on criminal gun charges. We take the time to investigate each client’s situation in order to find the best course of action.

With Greco Neyland, PC as your advocate, you will have former prosecutors fighting on your behalf, so we know how the process works. We use our knowledge of criminal legal procedure to put our clients in the best possible position to fight the charges. 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 Center for Possession of a Firearm in New York City


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Elements of Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree

A gun owner’s license is required in New York in order to possess a pistol or revolver legally. The New York City Police Department has published a pamphlet on Pistol License Information that explains the steps involved in the licensing process. 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.

Anyone who is not properly licensed and is in possession of a handgun may be charged with criminal possession of a firearm in the fourth degree, which applies to first-time offenders.

New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.01 states that a person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (also known as CPW 4) when that person “knowingly possesses any firearm” (without a license). This charge may also be brought if a gun is carried improperly even by a licensed gun owner.


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Definitions of Terms Related to Criminal Possession of a Firearm

The term “firearm” is defined in N.Y. P.L. 265.01 as “any pistol or revolver.” (Related statutes address other kinds of guns, such as rifles or shotguns, as well as other types of weapons, such as knives.)

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.

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.

Another important word in the statute is “knowingly.” 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.


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Elements of Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree Charges

In order for a defendant to found guilty of a charge of Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree, a judge or jury must find that a person, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Possessed a firearm on or about a certain date in a specific county;
  • Knowingly possessed a firearm on or about a certain date in a specific county; and
  • The firearm possessed was operable.

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Penalties for Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree

Criminal possession of a firearm in the fourth degree is a Class A Misdemeanor in New York. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable upon conviction by:

  • Up to one year in jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

The firearm will also be confiscated by the police upon arrest and destroyed after a conviction.


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Resources Related to Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree

New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.01(1) — Read the New York State law pertaining to criminal possession of a handgun in the fourth degree.

New York Police Department Pistol License Information — A pamphlet published by the NYPD explains the steps required to obtain a gun owner’s license in New York City and includes important contact information.

Jury Instructions for Criminal Possession 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 possession of a firearm in the fourth degree for any offense committed on or after November 1, 1990.


Attorney for Criminal Possession of a Handgun in New York City

If you were arrested in New York City for Criminal Possession of a Handgun (revolver or pistol) in the Fourth Degree under N.Y. P.L. § 265.01(1), you may need an attorney to assist you and help you stay out of jail.

The skilled criminal defense lawyers in Manhattan at Greco Neyland, PC are experienced in defending charges of criminal possession of a weapon and will work with you from the start in an effort to maintain your freedom.

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 gun charge.

This article was last updated on Monday, May 30, 2016.

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