Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree
New York is known for its strict laws related to handguns, but what laws apply to the possession of so-called “long guns,” such as rifles and shotguns?
While Illegal possession of a handgun by a convicted felon is a felony in New York, it is also illegal for a convicted felon to possess any operable long gun, even if the gun is licensed. Illegal possession of a firearm in the fourth degree — which includes any rifle or shotgun and certain antique firearms — by a person convicted of a felony or other serious offense is a Class A misdemeanor in New York under N.Y. Penal Law 265.01(4).
Penalties for a state conviction of a Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree charge as a Class A misdemeanor 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 rifle or shotgun by law enforcement.
Attorney for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in Manhattan
If you were arrested for criminal possession of a rifle or shotgun under N.Y. P.L. 265.01(4) in Manhattan or any of the five boroughs of New York City, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to assist you with the legal process. An attorney will be able to explain the charge and help you find the best possible resolution in your case.
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, you will have a former prosecutor fighting on your behalf, so we know how the process works. We use our knowledge of criminal legal procedure to help our clients fight for the best possible reoslution. We represent clients in Manhattan (New York County), Brooklyn (Kings County), The Bronx, and all five boroughs of New York City.
Call the criminal defense attorneys in New York City who are focused on weapon possession charges. Call (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation.
Information Center for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in NYC
- Types of Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree
- Definitions of Terms Related to Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun
- Elements of Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree Charges
- Penalties for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree
- Resources Related to Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Fourth Degree
New York Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 265.01(4) states that a person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree when that person has been previously convicted of a felony or serious offense and “knowingly possesses” any:
- Antique firearm;
- Black powder rifle;
- Black powder shotgun; or
- Any muzzle-loading firearm.
Under this charge, the firearm need not be loaded but it must be operable. To be operable, the firearm must be capable of discharging ammunition. (People v Longshore, 86 NY2d 851, 852 ). Courts have ruled that there is no requirement that the possessor know the firearm was operable. (See People v Ansare, 96 AD2d 96 (4th Dept 1983) and Cf. People v Saunders, 85 NY2d 339, 341-42 (1995).
Several key terms in the law are legally defined in the statutes, including serious offense, possess, and knowingly, and as well as the definitions of the weapons cited.
A person charged under this state law must have at least one prior conviction for either a felony or a serious offense. A “serious offense” is defined in N.Y. P.L., Part 3, Title P, Article 265.00(17) as:
- Illegally using, carrying, or possessing a pistol or other dangerous weapon;
- Making or possessing burglar’s instruments;
- Buying or receiving stolen property;
- Unlawful entry of a building;
- Aiding escape from prison;
- Certain kinds of disorderly conduct;
- Criminal sexual acts or rape designated as misdemeanors;
- Violations of public health law relating to narcotic drugs or depressant or stimulant drugs;
- Criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree;
- Fraudulent accosting;
- Endangering the welfare of a child;
- Issuing “abortional articles”;
- Permitting prostitution;
- Promoting prostitution in the third degree;
- Stalking in the third or fourth degree; or
- Certain other offenses.
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 room or a vehicle when more than one person has access to it.
A person “knowingly” possesses a firearm when that person is “aware” that he or she is in possession of a firearm. (N.Y. P.L. Part 1, Title B, Article 15.05(2)).
A “rifle is legally defined as “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)).
A “shotgun” is legally defined as “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)).
An “antique firearm” is legally defined as “any unloaded muzzle loading pistol or revolver with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system, or a pistol or revolver which uses fixed cartridges which are no longer available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.” (N.Y. P.L. 265.00(14)).
In order for a defendant to found guilty of a charge of Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree, a judge or jury must find that a person, beyond a reasonable doubt, committed the following elements:
- Possessed a specific rifle or shotgun on or about a certain date in a specific county;
- Knowingly possessed a specific rifle or shotgun on or about a certain date in a specific county; and
- The specific rifle or shotgun was operable.
If the defendant has admitted the previous conviction for a felony or serious offense, the crime will consist of only the three elements listed above. If the defendant has denied the previous conviction or has remained mute, a fourth element is added:
- “And that the defendant has been convicted of (a specific felony or previous serious offense).” (Criminal Jury Instructions 2d[NY] 265.01(4)).
Criminal possession of a rifle or shotgun 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 rifle or shotgun will also be confiscated upon arrest and destroyed after a conviction in P.L. 265.01(4) cases.
Jury Instructions for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun with a Previous Conviction — Read the standard criminal jury instructions (CJI) for N.Y. P.L. 265.01(4) for criminal possession of a rifle or shotgun (with a previous conviction) in the fourth degree in New York. The standard criminal jury instructions apply to offenses committed on or after September 1, 1974 for a rifle or shotgun or January 30, 2012, for an antique firearm, black powder rifle, black powder shotgun, or muzzle-loaded firearm.
Attorney for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in NYC
If you were arrested in New York City for Criminal Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun in the Fourth Degree under N.Y. P.L. § 265.01(4), you may need a lawyer to assist you and help you stay out of jail.
The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC are experienced in defending charges of criminal possession of a weapon and will work with you from the start in the 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 weapon charge.
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New York, NY 10017
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