Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree is classified as a violent felony. Commission of a violent felony can have serious financial and physical penalties involved. If you are uncertain of what constitutes criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and the penalties at stake, you should seek legal counsel.
What is Criminal Possession? Criminal possession involves the illegal possession of any weapon. The New York Penal Code describes a weapon rather broadly. In fact, a weapon includes a gun, as well as a razor, switchblade, blackjack, knife, or other instruments known to be deadly. Criminal possession of a weapon is also punishable in four ways: possession in the first degree; second degree; third degree; and fourth degree. This article focuses solely on criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.
The New York Penal Code proscribes certain actions concerning a weapon and defines them as criminal possession in the third degree. These actions include:
Possession of a weapon by a person with a prior conviction. For example, an individual was previously convicted of shoplifting. That same individual is later involved in a traffic stop and a knife is found on their person during the course of a search.
Possession of a weapon that is:
- Explosive or incendiary in nature;
- A weapon silencer or bombshell;
- A machine-gun; or
- Similar to a machine-gun or adaptable to such use.
Possession of a weapon with the knowledge that it has been defaced, or had its identity misrepresented or concealed in any way. For example, an individual decides to purchase a gun on the streets because they are in fear for their life. The individual knows the gun they are purchasing is stolen. Said individual then files off the serial number of the gun so the original owner could not be identified. In a later search, the individual is in possession of that gun.
Possession of three or more firearms, or possession of a weapon with a previous felony or class A felony misdemeanor within the five years prior to the current possession case, with current possession taking place in any place other than the possessor’s home or business. For example, the police execute a search warrant upon suspicion of a crime and find several guns in the individual’s home. Also, another example includes an individual with a prior conviction occurring three years prior who is caught in a public place in possession of a firearm.
Knowingly possessing a disguised gun.
Knowingly possessing an assault weapon.
Unlawful possession of an ammunition feeding device with a large capacity.
During the same criminal transaction, the commission of a drug trafficking felony while in possession of an unloaded firearm.
During the same criminal transaction, the commission of a violent felony offense while in possession of an unloaded firearm.
What is the Penalty for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree?
Prison: Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. However, the commission of this violent offense could carry a prison term up to seven years. In determining the sentence, the courts will look to the prior criminal history of the offender.
Financial Penalty: In addition to the prison sentence imposed, an individual convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree may be subjected to fines and/or other financial penalties for committing a crime in New York.
Do I Have a Defense? There are a number of defenses that may be available to reduce or eliminate the charges. For instance, if you were subjected to an illegal search the charges could be dropped. However, the circumstances of each case are unique and legal counsel should be sought.