THE ANATOMY OF BEATING A FIREARMS CHARGE – Judges and Jurors May Not Always Support Draconian Gun Laws

April 18, 2016

A recent victory by Firearms Attorneys Tilem & Associates in Queens County Supreme Court demonstrates exactly how to beat a firearms charge even in gun hating states like New York. While New York prosecutors seek to strictly enforce New York’s draconian gun laws, it turns out that jurors and judges may not be completely sold on incarcerating lawful gun owners who run afoul of New York gun laws.

The client, who lawfully purchased his firearm in Florida and who was in New York for about three weeks before being arrested, was arrested and charged after he was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt. During the car stop, the police alleged that he acted nervously prompting them to ask the client if he had any weapons in his car. The Client told the police that he had his firearm in the center console and was immediately taken out of his car and arrested. A loaded 9 mm firearm was discovered in the center console of the vehicle and the client was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a charge which carries a mandatory minimum of 3 and ½ years in prison even for a first offender. The maximum he faced was 15 years in prison.

Plea Negotiations

After being arraigned in Criminal Court, the client hired an attorney who was able to work out a plea deal of 2 years in prison. Yes, that’s right 2 years in prison, for a man with no criminal record who purchased his gun lawfully. However, in New York it is a felony to possess a pistol without a New York issued license. Soon after, Tilem & Associates was retained. Quickly, the offer from the prosecutor went down and it is possible that we may have been able to get no jail if the client was willing to plead to a felony, but he was not. The client, who possessed a degree in Criminal Justice was concerned about the impact of a felony conviction on his career aspirations. Hoping to someday become a corrections officer or work in law enforcement the client offered to serve one year in jail in return for a plea deal to a misdemeanor. That offer was rejected by the prosecutor. After negotiating with the prosecutor and supervisors for weeks, the only thing left was to fight the case.

The Grand Jury Proceedings

In New York, every person accused of a felony has a right to testify in any grand jury proceeding. In July 2015, the client exercised his right to testify before the grand jury. He testified truthfully before the grand jury about the circumstances surrounding the recovery of a loaded firearm from the center console of his vehicle. He was cross-examined by the Assistant District Attorney and asked questions by the grand jurors themselves. In the end he admitted to every element of the most serious crimes with which he was charged.

However, the grand jurors, for whatever reason, chose not to indict for the most serious charges. On the charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree which carried the mandatory minimum of 3 and ½ years , the grand jury voted “no true bill”, that charge was dismissed. On the charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree which carried a mandatory minimum of 1 year in jail, the grand jury also voted “no true bill”, that charge was also dismissed. The client was only indicted for a class “E” felony, the lowest level felony on the books. The charge was a new felony that only became effective in March 2013 and was passed as part of the SAFE Act, Governor Cuomo’s ground breaking anti-gun legislation. Had the client been charged 2 years earlier, the only remaining charge would have been a misdemeanor. However, this being 2015 the client was charged in a one count indictment with violating Criminal Possession of a Firearm under Penal Law sec 265.01-b, a class “E” non-violent felony with no mandatory minimum.

Fighting the Charge in Court and Beating the Felony Gun Charge

Unfortunately, while the grand jury handed us a major victory, the client was still charged with a felony, a potentially career ending charge. The District Attorney’s Office was still refusing to make a deal for a misdemeanor and now wanted jail time. So we had to continue to fight the case. I made a motion to suppress the gun and the Judge ordered a hearing on my motion. I thought we should have won the suppression motion but we lost. A decision I thought we could win on appeal. However, we still needed to attempt to win the trial.

Earlier this month we went to trial. After meeting the Judge and speaking to him it was agreed that the client should waive a jury and agree to be tried by the Judge. It was the Judge alone who would decide the client’s fate. Both whether the client is guilty or not guilty but also what sentence to impose. Waiving a jury should never be done lightly. The maneuver paid off. The client was found not guilty of the felony charge of Criminal Possession of a Firearm. He was found guilty of the lesser charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a misdemeanor. The result he should have gotten a year and a half earlier. When he is sentence next month, the Judge has agreed to give him a Conditional Discharge. No jail, no probation.

In the end, it was clear neither the grand jurors of Queens County nor the Supreme Court Justice who presided over the trial were on board with New York’s draconian gun laws or the Prosecutor’s draconian application of those laws. While it took a year and a half. Justice was finally served.


April 14, 2016

New York has banned the possession of stun guns by listing them as “per se” weapons in the Penal Law. Possession by a civilian even in a person’s home constitutes Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. There is no license available for civilians to be able to possess stun guns. Rather New York, like Massachusetts and New Jersey have a total ban on civilian possession of stun guns. However, last month, in the first Second Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court in years and in a stunning rebuke of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the United States Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts’ total ban on stun guns and found that stun guns, like any “bearable arms” are subject to the protections of the Second Amendment.

In Heller, in 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment “extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” Bearable arms, is a very broad term that encompasses much more than firearms which are the usual focus of Second Amendment jurisprudence thanks in large part to the National Rifle Association and other similar groups. As a result of the focus on firearms very little has been written about other “bearable arms.” Two years later in McDonald, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment is fully applicable to the States.

In the case of CAETANO v. MASSACHUSETTS, decided last month by the US Supreme Court, the Court criticized the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts’ analysis of the Massachusetts stun gun ban. The Massachusetts high court offered three explanations for why stun guns were not protected by the Second Amendment and the US high court rebuked them for each one explaining that each reason given was inconsistent with the Heller decision. First, the Massachusetts Court tried to explain that Stun Guns were not in general use at the time of ratification of the Second Amendment despite the fact that Heller specifically rejected that argument in 2008. Next the Massachusetts Court argued that Stun Guns were not adaptable for military use another argument specifically rejected in Heller. Lastly, the Massachusetts Court suggested that Stun Guns were an unusual weapon an argument that the Supreme Court equated with the first argument that they were not around during the time of ratification of the Second Amendment.

In reversing the Massachusetts Court the US Supreme Court reiterated its willingness to protect the inherent right to self-defense. In a concurring opinion Justice Alito wrote: “The reasoning of the Massachusetts court poses a grave threat to the fundamental right of self-defense.”

For New York residents, this decision will have a far reaching effect well beyond stun guns. New York presently bans the per se possession of a whole list of items that Courts will likely find to be “bearable arms”, including: gravity knives, switchblades, blackjacks, billys, cane swords, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chucka sticks, kung fu stars, wrist brace style slingshots and others. No permits are available for these weapons. In addition, in New York City bans additional items such as handcuffs, pepper spray, knives over 4 inches and knives in plain view and “ammunition feeding devices.” While there have not been any reported decisions citing Caetano yet, It is very likely that these bans are unconstitutional and will be overturned in the near future.


March 17, 2016

As New York Criminal Defense Lawyers we have sounded the alarm on numerous occasions about the draconian enforcement of New York Knife laws by New York City Police Officers and the 5 New York City District Attorney’s Offices. Now an amendment to the New York State Penal Law may severely restrict those arrests if the bill passes the full Senate and the New York assembly. The scope of the problem is enormous. A report in the Village Voice found that more than 60,000 individuals have been arrested for possessing common pocket knives.

The problem stems from the definition of a “gravity knife” found in New York Penal Law 265.00(5). The definition essentially includes as a gravity knife, any lock back knife that can be opened by the application of centrifugal force. That is to say that if a 250 pound police officer can “flip” opened a knife, the knife can be a considered a gravity knife.
The proposed fix to the law would require prosecutors to prove “unlawful intent” before they can convict someone of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree to convict for possessing a Gravity Knife.

Be careful, as we have reported in the past, in a case entitled People v. Richards a judge ruled that the statement of a defendant that he had the knife for self-defense was enough to establish that he possessed a knife with intent to use it unlawfully against another. In that case, the criminal court judge reasoned that by stating that the knife was for self-defense it showed that the person considered the knife a weapon as opposed to a tool. Therefore, even if the law is amended, and the person admits to the police that the knife is for self-defense, that statement may be sufficient to convict a person of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree.

It is also important to note that this amendment will not fix the two statutes found in the New York City Administrative Code which also result in many criminal summonses and arrests. The first New York City knife law to be aware of is possession of a knife that is in plain view. Many in New York City get arrested or summoned for having a pocket knife clipped to their pocket as many people do. The other statute bans all knives over 4” in length in public. As we have previously reported, even a steak knife at a restaurant can be illegal under this statute.

As a result, for the time being, it is important to vigilant and not bring a knife into New York unless you are well versed in New York knife laws. For more information please read our knife law blogs part 1, part 2 and part 3 and contact us if you need additional information.

New York Gun Laws vs. the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act

March 4, 2016


As experienced New York Second Amendment Lawyers we often think that we have seen it all but recently we handled a gun case using the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) also commonly called HR218 as a defense to New York State gun charges under some unusual circumstances. Just as a primer, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is a federal law that provides a defense to State weapons charges for both active law enforcement officers and “qualified retired law enforcement officers.” Essentially it gives Law Enforcement Officers and Retired Law Enforcement Officers the right to carry a firearm in all 50 states. Despite this well established Federal Law a gentleman who was both a Special Police Officer for the Sheriff’s Department and a retired Police Officer was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in New York for having three unregistered handguns in his home.

Two questions that I immediately raised when I became the client’s third attorney were firstly, how can a law enforcement officer, a peace officer, a special police officer under New York law who according to the New York State Penal Law (PL §265.20) is exempt from prosecution be prosecuted in a New York State Court and secondly, how could the police, the prosecutor and the two prior criminal defense attorneys have missed these obvious defenses. Sadly, despite the successful conclusion of the case and the successful conclusion of the County’s futile attempt to revoke his pistol license, I still do not know the answers to my question.

The Client

Besides the fact that the client was one of the finest individuals I have represented, he had a truly incredible military and law enforcement background starting with 33 years in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard including involvement while in the National Guard with a Counter Drug Detachment and numerous awards and decorations for his service, he also had a distinguished and lengthy career in law enforcement. The client’s law enforcement career started with seasonal work as a New York State Park Police Officer which led to 20 years in a Town police Department in New York State after retiring from the Town Police Department with the rank of Sergeant the client spent 7 years as a Sheriff’s deputy in a New York State Sheriff’s Office and the 1 year as a part-time Town police officer and then went on to work 8 years as a Special Police officer for the same Sheriff’s office. Clearly, the client’s law enforcement background was impressive and included supervisory and training responsibilities within his departments.

Probable Cause to Obtain A Search Warrant

The case against the client arose after he was contacted by a buddy of his who he served with in Vietnam and who had confessed that he illegally smuggled back several machine guns from Vietnam. He told the client that he was dying of cancer and that he didn’t want his family to have to deal with them so he asked the client to turn them in at the Sheriff’s Office where he worked. The client complied. After receiving these illegal machineguns someone from the Sheriff’s office decided to notify the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives who interviewed the sister of the dying friend. The sister believed that more machine guns were taken by the client than were turned in. This led the BATFE to obtain a Federal Search Warrant for the home of the client and execute it and the client’s home.

The Arrest

Firstly, during the search NO MACHINE GUNS WERE FOUND. However, during the search it was discovered that about 1 year earlier the client obtained three handguns from his father after he died. None of these handguns were added to the client’s license to possess handguns so he was arrested and charged with three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. Each Count was for a class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

Two Prior Lawyers

When this firm was retained to represent the client, the case was quite old and two prior lawyers had totally botched the case. No motion to dismiss was made. In fact, almost nothing had happened on the case other than two lawyers begging and pleading, orally and in writing for a plea deal. Sadly, the begging and pleading fell on deaf ears and a plea offer to a deal which would leave the client with a permanent criminal record. In fact, the pleading only seem to embolden the prosecutors and by the time our firm was retained there were threats to indict the client for possessing three or more illegal firearms, a felony under New York Law. Certainly, neither of these lawyers raised the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act with either the Court or the prosecutors. Nor did they raise the exemptions pursuant to Penal Law §265.20 which under subsection 1(c) grants peace officers an exemption from weapons charges and under subsection (3) which grants individuals who possess firearms licenses an exemption.

The Resolution of the Case

Ultimately, the legal issues matter. After the firm was retained I happened to run into the prosecutor in the hallway of the County Courthouse. We of course knew each other well. When I told the prosecutor that I was retained he told me about how fair he had been with the client and that if the client didn’t take the plea offer he was going to indict him for a felony. I think my reaction woke the prosecutor up. What I told him in the Courthouse was that if he indicted my client I would beat him in the County Court and if he decided not to indict him then I would beat him in the local Court. I explained that all an indictment meant was a bigger and more high profile win for me. He could tell I was excited and he asked me to calm down and outline my defenses in a letter.
A short time after I outlined my defenses which essentially boiled down to four :
1. That as the holder of a New York State Pistol Permit issued under Article 400 of the Penal Law the client was exempt from prosecution for weapons possession under New York Law;
2. That as a current law enforcement officer the client was protected under LEOSA;
3. That as a qualified retired law enforcement officer the client was protected under LEOSA
4. Penal Law §265.20 provided an exemption for peace officers to Weapons Charges.
Ultimately, as a result of his legal defenses being laid out for the prosecutor, the client was allowed to pay a fine for a non-criminal violation and have the record of arrest sealed.

The Aftermath of the Case

Not surprisingly after the criminal case ended the County brought an action to revoke the client’s pistol license despite the fact that the arrest was sealed. This required the County to undertake a two step process. First they sought and obtained an unsealing order so that they could obtain the records of arrest from the police and the Court records. The County then used those records to seek revocation of the pistol license that the client has had without incident for decades. Ultimately, a County Court Judge was persuaded that the original arrest was improper and agreed with our arguments concerning LEOSA and New York State Law. The Judge not only reinstated the client’s license but also required that the police return all of his many guns.

Justice was served in this case. But the zeal of prosecutors in certain states to go after law abiding citizens who may have made a minor error in paperwork or some other miniscule error is scary. If you are an honest citizen that has firearms and you find that you are a target of law enforcement, remember that you have rights and options. Find a lawyer who knows gun laws. The life you save me be your own.


February 11, 2016

New York firearms attorneys Tilem & Associates have been following the increasing number of guns recovered at US airports and more specifically the guns being recovered at local airports such as LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark with sometimes devastating consequences. As reported in the New York Times in June 2014, from 2011 until June 2014 the TSA had seen a steady rise in guns recovered by screeners in airport security lines. TSA is now reporting another 20% increase in 2015. While a majority of these guns are recovered in places with relatively lax gun laws such as:
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — 153 guns recovered
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — 144 guns recovered
Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport — 100 guns recovered
Denver International Airport — 90 guns recovered
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — 73 guns recovered,
it is also true that many are being recovered in airports in places with very draconian gun laws.

Not included in the numbers reported by TSA which reports the guns recovered by TSA agents, are the individuals arrested in New York while attempting to check there guns. These individuals are often arrested by the Port Authority Police who are called by the airline agent when the person attempts to declare and check an unloaded gun in accordance with proper TSA procedures. The problem is that under the New York State Penal Law a person is not permitted to possess a pistol of any kind in New York unless they have a license. Since New York does not grant reciprocity to any other State’s pistol license, you must have a valid New York State Pistol License to possess a handgun in New York.

Two other factors also complicate matters. Firstly, a gun is considered loaded in New York if you possess both the gun and the ammunition that can be fired from that gun even if they are separate. The other factor is that it is a class “C” violent felony offense to possess a loaded firearm in New York. A Class “C” violent felony carries a minimum of 3 and ½ years in prison. For many, this can result in a very bad ending to a dream trip to New York.

The only silver lining is that our firm has had tremendous success in litigating gun cases throughout New York and in particular successfully handling and litigating New York airport gun cases. Just last month Tilem & Associates was able to successfully resolve a Felony Gun charge by having it reduced to a non-criminal Disorderly Conduct and paying a $250 fine. The poor woman from Georgia followed all of the lawful procedures for checking her gun in Georgia and when she reversed the process in New York was arrested. She spent nearly 24 hours waiting to see a Judge, missed her flight and spent a lot in legal fees but will have no criminal record. The gun, sadly, will not be returned.

When travelling with firearms it is important to know the local laws on both ends of your trip. In addition, you must be familiar with both TSA regulations and your airlines policies. I strongly recommend printing from the internet both the TSA regulations and airline policies and carrying them with you to the airport.

Tilem & Associates Beats Another Handgun Ammunition Charge at Local Area Airport

April 29, 2015

Again, at JFK airport in Queens, New York, Tilem & Associates beat another handgun ammunition charge after a client was found bringing handgun ammunition through the TSA screening area. As described in a previous blog, the New York City administrative code makes it illegal to possess handgun ammunition unless a person is licensed to possess a pistol or unless the person is a dealer in rifles or shotguns.

As described in the previous blog, section 10-131 of the New York City Code is somewhat convoluted and specifically 10-131(i)(3) contains two exceptions right in the statute. 1. that the law does not apply to a person “authorized” to possess a pistol or revolver. 2. that the law doesn’t apply to a dealer in rifles and shotguns. As explained previously, when a statute in New York contains an exception within the statute, the exception must be both pleaded and proved. In other words, the police are required to allege both that the defendant was not authorized to possess a pistol or revolver and that the defendant was not a dealer in rifles and shotguns. Absent those specific allegations in the accusatory instrument, the case should be dismissed.

This is unusual because, for example, in drafting a charge for possession of an illegal pistol, the police or prosecutor would not be required to establish that person was not authorized to possess the pistol. Rather, the possession of a license or some legal authority to possess the weapon is an exemption contained in a different statute. Since the exception is not found within the statute but rather outside the specific statute the police or prosecutor do not need to plead or prove the exemption.

Given the complexities involved in deciding when it is appropriate to move to dismiss a charge based upon the facial insufficiency of the accusatory instrument, and based upon the nuances of drafting a legally sufficient instrument, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer review the charges before an arraignment to be able to advise about the best defense. Many criminal defense lawyers are also former prosecutors who spent years drafting accusatory instruments. Many others have reviewed many accusatory instruments as criminal defense lawyers. It is important to find a lawyer that you can trust to offer you the very best advise on how to defend yourself.


January 6, 2015

New York gun crimes law firm Tilem & Associates is pleased to announce another victory in a firearms related case, winning a full dismissal of all charges after a person was charged with possessing handgun ammunition and a handgun magazine at JFK airport. As reported almost 6 years ago in our blog about New York City’s ban on commonly possessed items, possession of handgun ammunition and ammunition feeding devices are illegal in the five boroughs of New York City under New York City Administrative Code Section 10-131. That section makes it a misdemeanor, to possess these items punishable by up to one year in jail.

The difficulty with section §10-131 is that it is very long, containing a large number of subdivisions, poorly written and has a large number of exceptions written into the statute. §10-131 subdivision (i)(3) states in pertinent part: “It shall be unlawful for any person not authorized to possess a pistol or revolver within the city of New York to possess pistol or revolver ammunition, provided that a dealer in rifles and shotguns may possess such ammunition.”

In the case at JFK airport, the police officer in the accusatory instrument alleged only, in pertinent part that “. . . at Terminal 5 – JFKIA main screening Lane 13, suspect was in possession of two magazines holding six rounds of 9mm ammunition in each.” Yet, it is a well settled principle of New York law that where an exception is contained within a statute the prosecutor or the police are required to disprove the exception. In this case for example the police would have been obligated as a matter of law to establish that the accused was not a dealer in rifles and shotguns. Since the police failed to make that accusation, the accusatory instrument was insufficient as a matter of law and needed to be dismissed.

This situation is different than, for example, than illegal possession of a firearm. Those statutes do not contain any exceptions for a person who possesses a license or for a police officer. Rather, those are exemptions found in a different section and therefore do not need to be pleaded and proved by the police or prosecutor.

A similar argument was made for the separate charge of possessing an ammunition feeding device. That section includes a large number of exceptions including the fact that the defendant was not a licensee or permittee authorized to possess a pistol that accepted the ammunition feeding devices.

The New York Criminal Procedure Law requires that all local court accusatory instruments be sufficient on the face of the instrument and requires dismissal of instruments that are not sufficient on their face under most circumstances. Here the police officer drafting the instrument failed to establish that the exceptions did not apply but also failed to establish other elements of the offense.

Quoting the deficiencies in the ammunition feeding device charge from the motion to dismiss: “1. That the defendant possessed a “ammunition feeding device”; 2. that it was “designed for use in a firearm”; 3. that the defendant was not a “pistol or revolver licensee or permittee”; 4. that the defendant was not licensed to possess a pistol that accepted that ammunition feeding device”; 5. that the device was capable of holding more than 17 rounds; and 6. that the device extended below the grip.”

Quoting the deficiencies in the ammunition charge from the motion to dismiss: “1. That defendant possessed pistol or revolver ammunition; 2. That Defendant was not authorized to possess a pistol or revolver; 3. That defendant was not a dealer in rifles and shotguns.”

The bottom line is read the accusations in the accusatory instruments carefully. Read the statutes carefully. As a result of good lawyering and bad drafting by the police, the accused was completely vindicated and justice was served.

Westchester Journal News Publishes Names and Addresses of Licensed Gun Owners Now We Publish The Reporter's Name and Address

December 26, 2012

As we already reported in an earlier blog, earlier this week Westchester Journal News Reporter Dwight R. Worley thought it was news worthy to publish the names and addresses of all licensed gun owners in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Under the First Amendment that is his right. However Dwight R. Worley also has a home address and he apparently has a licensed Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver at that address. We thought that the old expression "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" was perfect for just this situation, so here it is:

Dwight R Worley
23006 139 Ave
Springfield Gardens, NY 11413

(718) 527-0832


December 23, 2012

Firearms defense firm Tilem & Campbell is very unhappy to report that a local newspaper has outed local law-abiding gun owners. In the modern day equivalent of the scarlet letter the Journal News has published an article in today's paper with an interactive on-line map that discloses the names of addresses of all law abiding gun owners in Westchester and Rockland Counties. The information was obtained by a Freedom of Information law request to the County clerks of each county.

Exactly the point of the article is not clear but is an apparent attack on law abiding gun owners who may face consequences at their work or in social circles now that their ownership of firearms has been publicized. The map also appears to have the names and addresses of several sworn police officers who for obvious reasons generally keep their residence information a secret. The article, an apparent reaction to the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, ironically puts everyone in danger in that it tells would be murders, terrorists, psychos and other people who are inellegible to purchase guns lawfully, exactly where they can steal them.

The basis for such a publication unfortunately has its basis under New York law. No civilian may lawfully purchase or possess a firearm in New York without a permit issue under Penal Law § 400.00 which defines the types of gun license in New York and the rules for issuing them. Penal Law § 400.00(5) specifically requires the filing of all approved applications and goes on to state: "The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record." Penal law § 400.00(5). Apparently, Paul Piperato, the Rockland County Clerk, expressed some reluctance in giving up these records even as he apparently released the records under New York Law. "You have judges, policemen, retired policemen, FBI agents — they have permits,” Piperato said. “Once you allow the public to see where they live, that puts them in harm’s way.”

What is most unfortunate is that the newspaper only published the names of addresses of those who lawfully purchased their firearms but specifically excluded the names of criminals who unlawfully possess firearms since those records are not readily available. The individuals whose names were released not only underwent an expensive and time consuming process but were thoroughly vetted by a police investigation and then had their licenses issued by a County Court Judge. Those who avoided this process were obviously not on the list.

It appears that the all out assault on lawful gun owners has begun. Already, this firm has been contacted by lawful gun owners who fear losing their licenses after the brutal murders in Newtown. Any lawful gun owner who faces any action to suspend or revoke their licenses should contact this firm immediately. Likewise, anyone who is denied a license should contact us to discuss their options.

Tilem & Campbell attorneys can be reached at 877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at


October 25, 2012

As a New York criminal defense lawyer that handles an inordinate number of gun related cases, I hear a large number of stories about the interaction between the police and law abiding gun owners. After more than 20 years, however, very few cases shock me. What happened after a Westchester County gun owner called a suicide hotline bears repeating as a cautionary tale to law abiding citizens everywhere.

A Westchester County gun owner owner got the surprise of his life when he called a suicide hot line to talk about tools to manage depression. After the gun owner's wife from whom he had been separated introduced him to her new boyfriend, and after having suffered a medical condition the loss of his home and the break up of his marriage the gun owner decided to call a suicide help line for help and instead ended up with more trouble.

The gun owner clearly remembers calling 1800 SUICIDE to ask about tools for managing depression. He also recalls that he started out the conversation by telling the operator that he wasn't going to hurt himself or anyone else but that he simply wanted information. The operator then steered the conversation to whether or not there was a child in the house (there was) and whether or not there were guns in the house (there were). Within a very short time of answering that there were guns in the house, and while still on the telephone, the Westchester County gun owner heard a knock at the door. It was the police.

When he answered the door, he was informed by police that he called the Suicide hotline and he has guns in the house, its mandatory that they take them. He was then led to a patrol car while the police took the .357 magnum he kept for protection. The police seized the gun without a warrant but left other guns in a safe that contained a collection of guns. The police drove the gun owner to the County hospital.

Unfortunately, the nightmare didn't end there. After being held against his will for several days, the gun owner was released to the custody of the police who then drove him home to take the rest of his guns without a warrant. The gun owner was made to open the safe while the police inventoried and seized his guns. To date, two months later the police have refused to release the guns putting the burden on the gun owner to go to Court to get a Court order for the police to release the guns.

For the gun owner, a momentary call to get information about depression resulted in a nightmare that could come right out of a story from the Soviet Union. Here in the United States a gun owner seeking help ends up with his guns seized without a warrant and held without charges.

If you have any legal issue regarding the ownership, possession, sale or licensing of firearms or would like to share your story, please contact the law firm of Tilem & Campbell for a free and friendly consultation over the telephone or visit us on the web at


March 27, 2012

Senior Partner Peter H. Tilem of the White Plains law firm, Tilem & Campbell recently passed the test to become an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor. Mr. Tilem, who is a senior criminal defense lawyer, NRA member and handles much of the firms firearms law practice together with law partner Peter Tilem, was an experienced and avid firearms enthusiast before passing the National Rifle Association's instructors' test.
Besides being a lifelong shooter, Mr. Tilem has been handling gun and weapons cases for decades. Initially, as a prosecutor, in one of the most anti-gun counties, in one of the most anti-gun states in the United States, Mr. Tilem handled the prosecution of countless gun and knife cases as well as cases involving a variety of other weapons. After several years as a prosecutor, Mr. Tilem was asked to join the District Attorney's Office's Firearms Trafficking Unit where he handled large scale, gun trafficking conspiracy cases in addition to other gun cases and violent crimes and became an adviser to other prosecutors in the handling of gun cases.

After leaving the District Attorney's Office and entering private practice, Mr. Tilem put his experience and knowledge of New York gun laws to work helping law-abiding citizens who got caught in the web of New York's criminal justice system which treats law-abiding citizens with firearms (or knives) as criminals. In New York, a law abiding citizen who carries his (or her) pistol into New York with an out-of-state permit (ccw) faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 and 1/2 years in prison. In addition, New York still has on the books the functional equivalent of the since repealed Federal Assault Weapons ban which punishes as a felony possession of rifles or shotguns that have cosmetic features that are deemed to look offensive. The outdated and ill conceived assault weapon ban in New York is so poorly written and hard to understand that neither the police, prosecutors nor civilians can be sure of what is felonious conduct and what is perfectly legal.

In addition to New York's bizarre gun laws, New York bans virtually any weapon imaginable including brass knuckles, billy clubs, "sand bag[s]" (whatever that means), wrist-brace type sling shots, nun-chucks and kung fu stars just to give some examples. As Mr. Tilem has written about extensively, New York's ban on knives is so complete that it seems to ban steak knives in restaurants (at least in the five boroughs of New York City) and virtually any lock blade folding knife as a "gravity knife."

Mr. Tilem's experience in gun cases has led to very successful defenses of individuals accused of possessing handguns at New York area airports, application of the federal travelers defense to successfully defend individuals driving with handguns and individuals accused of selling guns. By receiving this very important certification from the National Rifle Association, Mr. Tilem hopes that the training and certification will assist him in defending more individuals accused of weapon's possession in New York. In addition, Mr. Tilem will be available to testify as an expert witness in gun trials throughout New York State. Mr. Tilem can always be reached by calling 877-377-8666 or visiting


August 20, 2011

In the first two parts in our series of blogs on New York's assault weapon ban we discussed the absolute silliness in banning firearms based upon certain cosmetic features. Now we discuss the most troubling part of the ban from the perspective of the citizen who finds himself charged under New York law with possessing an Assault Weapon or the experienced criminal defense lawyer who takes on the responsibility of defending the citizen.


Generally, possession of a so called "assault weapon" in New York is a violation of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree under New York Penal Law sec 265.02 (7). Possession of a "Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device" is a violation of Penal Law sec 265.02 (8). Both are class "D" violent felonies in New York and are therefore punishable by a definite sentence of up to seven years in prison. A person charged under this section could get a sentence of Probation in lieu of a state prison sentence if the judge thought it was appropriate. In other words, prison is not mandatory.

One of the more troubling provisions of this law is that possession even inside one's home is a "D" felony despite recent United States Supreme Court Decisions that indicate that there is a constitutional right to possess a firearm in your home for self defense. In addition, a very troubling provision makes it a "C" felony to possess a loaded assault weapon inside of your home. The problem is that the definition of "loaded" in New York is very broad. To understand the definition of loaded in New York please see our blog entitled "When Your Unloaded Gun Is Really Loaded" Under New York's definition of loaded it would seem that any firearm or assault weapon inside your home would be considered loaded. In addition, possession of any "loaded" firearm inside your home if you have ever in the past been convicted of a crime is a "C" felony. That means that if you possess a loaded firearm inside your home (again it would be hard to imagine a situation where a gun in your home was not considered loaded under New York Law) and have been previously been convicted of Reckless Driving, you are facing a "C" felony. The significance of a "C" felony is that you must receive a mandatory minimum of 3 and 1/2 years in state prison and you can receive up to 15 years in prison. In other words, probation is not an available sentence. Only prison is available.

These cases are highly technical and obviously very serious. The consequences of a conviction are tremendous. Tilem & Campbell senior partner Peter H. Tilem has spent twenty years involved in first prosecuting and then defending gun and weapons cases in New York and Federal Court with outstanding success. To discuss an assault weapon case or any criminal case contact Peter Tilem by telephone or visit us on the web at


August 15, 2011

In Part I in our series of blogs covering New York's so called "assault weapon" ban we began to highlight some of the most troubling parts of a ban on certain weapons based purely on cosmetic features. At Tilem & Campbell we handle a large number of gun and weapons cases and so are in a unique position to see how some of these laws are applied. We continue with other troubling provisions of New York's assault weapon ban.

One of the most troubling features of the ban is the ban on flash suppressors. The fact is that there are many devices that attach to the barrel of a rifle and which look alike. There is no definition in the New York Penal sec 265.00 of a flash suppressor. Prior to 2004 when the Federal Assault Weapon ban expired the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) was responsible for characterizing the various devices that can be attached to the barrel of a gun. Since the federal law expired the BATFE no longer will do that. So manufacturers now attach devices to the barrel of rifles that look like flash suppressors but which manufacturers classify as "muzzle brakes". These devices look like flash suppressors but are seemingly legal under New York law since the law specifically bans flash suppressors. The problem is that New York does not provide any definition of flash suppressor (or muzzle brake) and the difference can mean the difference between not committing any criminal offense and doing 15 years.

In addition, to the ban on firearms containing certain random cosmetic features, the Federal Assault Weapon Ban also banned detachable magazines that held more than 10 rounds. The ban on detachable magazines similarly expired under Federal Law but still exists in some states. For example New York has a ban on magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds and New Jersey has a ban on magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds. (Since these numbers were selected at random there is no uniformity among the various states that imposed their own ban.)

The New York ban on high capacity magazines, or what are called "Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices" in the New York Penal Law only bans such devices manufactured after September 14, 1994. Since firearms magazines do not have serial numbers or date of manufacture this provision of New York's assault weapon ban is largely unenforceable.

Peter H. Tilem, senior partner at Tilem & Campbell had been a practicing criminal lawyer for 20 years. He started his career as a prosecutor in the New York County district attorney's Office and was assigned to the Firearms Trafficking Unit in that office. As a defense lawyer he has handled numerous gun and weapons cases with great success. If you or a loved one has been arrested, questioned summoned or charged with any gun or weapons case contact our office to discuss the case. Or you can visit us on the web at for additional information.


August 12, 2011

The Assault Weapon Ban which was passed as both a federal law and State law in many jurisdictions after a swell of media hysteria and which has since elapsed as a Federal ban is still alive and well in New York and New Jersey and a recent amendment to New York law has left a dangerous trap for innocent New Yorkers. Peter Tilem, the senior partner at Tilem & Campbell and former firearms trafficking prosecutor in the City of New York has dealt with a number of these cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

The Federal Assault Weapon Ban which was passed as a 10 year ban on "Assault Weapons" expired in 2004 after it was found to be absolutely useless. The original ban which is still in effect in New York banned rifles purely based upon cosmetic features. Since automatic weapons were already illegal, the so called assault weapon ban prohibited semi-automatic weapons that had two or more cosmetic features that were deemed to make them "Assault Weapons" the list of cosmetic features includes: a pistol grip, folding or collapsible stock, bayonet lug, flash suppressor and believe it or not if it was a pistol, the weight of the pistol. If the pistol weighed more than 50 ounces that was one of the two features that would make it an "Assault Weapon". (Up until the hysteria surrounding the Assault Weapon Ban we were told that it was the small easily concealable pistols the should be banned.) In addition, certain guns were banned by name.

It should be noted that in New York but not New Jersey if you possessed one of these guns prior to September 14, 1994 you could continue to own the so called assault weapon. This provision made the law largely unenforceable since the prosecutor could not prove, if the gun was manufactured before September 14, 1994 when it was first possessed.

The major problems with the continued assault weapon ban in New York is that these so called assault weapons are widely available all over the country and while the ban in New York seems largely regulatory in nature in that it bans purely cosmetic features on rifles, pistols and shotguns the law seeks to send people to prison for up to 15 years in prison for unwitting violation of the New York ban. Rifles in New York State (outside of New York City) are not considered firearms and no licenses are needed to purchase or possess them but its legality can turn on some very specific, ill defined features and can turn an otherwise lawful rifle into an assault weapon.

The assault weapon ban remains a reality in New York and remains very convoluted in the way the laws are written and applied. The law firm of Tilem & Campbell handles a lot of firearms, weapons and assault weapons cases throughout New York State with tremendous success. Peter H. Tilem has 20 years of experience in both prosecuting and defending gun cases. If you have been arrested or charged with any weapon or gun charge, please contact this office to schedule a free consultation or visit us on the web at


August 8, 2011

Eligibility requirements for the issuance of a pistol license in New York are set forth in Penal Law §400.00(1). Briefly, an applicant must (1) be twenty-one years of age; (2) of good moral character; (3) have not been convicted of a felony or serious offense; (4) state whether he has ever suffered from mental illness or been confined to an institution for mental illness; and (5) not had a pistol license revoked or who is not under a suspension or ineligibility order issued pursuant to CPL 530.14 or Fam. Ct. Act 894-a.
The issue is; does a failure to satisfy any of the above eligibility requirements act as a permanent bar to licensure? The question must be answered in the negative. Peter Tilem, a partner with Tilem & Campbell, is currently challenging a Westchester County Licensing Officer’s denial of an application because the applicant had a prior revocation based upon a lack of necessary character and judgment. The Licensing Officer denied the application solely because the applicant had a prior revocation without regard for the basis of that revocation.
The licensing officer that originally revoked the applicant’s license had found that he lacked the character and judgment to possess a pistol license. The revocation was not related to an order of protection and was not made pursuant to CPL §530.14 or Fam. Ct. Act §842-a but instead was made pursuant to Penal Law 400.00(11) for a lack of character. This is important because only revocations pursuant to CPL §530.14 or Fam. Ct. Act §842-a can act as a permanent bar. However, revocations based upon a lack of character and judgment are not permanent bars to re-licensure.
The First Department addressed this issue in Matter of Romanoff v. Kelly, 23 A.D.3d 212 (1st Dept. 2005) where it held that only revocations pursuant to CPL §530.14 or Fam. Ct. Act
§842-a could act as a permanent bar to re-licensure.
For more information about this or any other firearms issue, feel free to contact us toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at


February 23, 2011

A recent Appellate Court decision overturning a Nassau County gun law could have far reaching implications for New York City gun charges and New York City weapons offenses. As previously discussed in a prior blog, New York City bans many items which are legal in other parts of New York state. In Chwick v. Mulvey, gun owners successfully challenged a Nassau County local law that prohibited possession of firearms that were "deceptively" colored such as pink, gold or brown.

In finding that the Nassau County Law was preempted by New York State law which already has a comprehensive statutory and licensing scheme, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department ruled that Nassau County could not regulate in this area in direct contradiction to new York State law which says that licenses for firearms shall be valid throughout the State (except New York City). The ruling of this Court has binding in effect in the New York City Counties of Kings and Queens.

What is left unanswered by the Court is whether New York City has the right to ban "weapons" such as handcuffs, imitation pistols, and rifles and shotguns (for which New York City has its own licensing scheme) in the face of comprehensive state legislation that for example lists all of the illegal weapons in New York State. Penal Law sec. 265.01 (1) lists more than fifteen specific weapons such as gravity knives, kung fu stars and switchblades and then in subsection 2 lists additional weapons which are illegal if one has intent to use them unlawfully against another.

In addition, New York City regulates mace despite comprehensive legislation in Penal Law Article 270 and regulates Rifles and Shotguns despite the fact that the New York State Penal law specifically does not include them in the definition of firearms (for which a license is required). In addition, Rifles and Shotguns are regulated in the Penal Law which, for examples, prohibits their possession: on school, college or university grounds (PL 265.01 (3)); prohibits their possession by convicted felons or others convicted of a serious offense (PL 265.01(4)); by a person certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun (PL 265.01(6)).

Anyone charged with any weapons related offense specific to New York City or any other locality in New York State should contact this office to see whether or not a preemption argument should be made to have the charges dismissed. Tilem & Campbell is a criminal defense law firm that handles a considerable number of weapons and firearms related cases.


September 16, 2010

New York criminal defense firm Tilem & Campbell won a dismissal earlier today in another Bronx gun case. The case, started with the arrest of the client in December 2009 after a dispute with her roommate. The roommate notified the landlord, an off duty NYPD detective that her roommate had a pistol in her dresser drawer. The landlord entered the apartment without a search warrant and recovered a loaded firearm. The landlord then called the police and had the client arrested. The client was charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree and Possession of ammunition under the administrative code of the City of New York.

Tilem & Campbell, senior associate Jean Melino filed a motion to suppress the gun and ammunition because of the warrant-less entry and search into the client's bedroom by the off duty police officer/landlord. The Bronx County District Attorney's Office initially attempted to oppose our motion on the grounds that the off-duty police officer/landlord was not acting in his capacity as a police officer but rather as a landlord and that therefore he did not need to obtain a warrant. The Bronx District Attorney's Office cited both Federal cases and a case from the State of Nebraska to establish their position even though plenty of New York cases establish that an off-duty police officer is always acting in his official capacity. The Court granted a hearing on the issue.

After the Bronx District Attorney's Office was not ready to proceed on several dates that the Court had set for the hearing, The District Attorney's Office finally moved to dismiss the case rather than proceed with the hearing that they were sure to lose. The Court records in the matter were sealed.

The case was jointly handled by Jean Melino and Senior Partner Peter H. Tilem. This case represents the latest in a long line of successes on New York gun cases handled by Tilem & Campbell.

If you or a loved one has been charged in New York with any firearms or weapons related charges, contact the law firm of Tilem & Campbell for a free consultation or visit us on the web at

New York Criminal Defense Lawyer Peter Tilem on the Radio

August 10, 2010

Senior partner Peter H. Tilem will be on the radio this evening speaking about New York knife laws and some of the recent cases involving knife charges. Mr. Tilem will be appearing from 7-8pm on the Johnny Mandolin show and you can listen live or listen to a recording of the show at


July 21, 2010

New York criminal defense firm Tilem & Campbell, scored another big victory in a Queens gun possession case when the Queens District Attorney's Office agreed to reduce the class "C" violent felony gun charge to Disorderly Conduct a non-criminal violation. The client who was arrested with the handgun inside LaGuardia Airport as he was about to board a flight was originally facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 and 1/2 years in a New York State Prison. The client will pay a $250 fine and have his record sealed.

The client was originally arrested after he attempted to check the pistol in his checked baggage at the airport and was apparently not aware of New York's very strict gun laws. In New York, possession of a loaded firearm outside a person's home or place of business carries a mandatory minimum of three and a half years in prison even for a first arrest. In addition, the pistol does not actually have to be loaded to be legally "loaded" simply possessing the ammunition and the gun capable of firing that ammunition at the same time is enough to constitute a "loaded firearm" under New York law.

This is the second such victory this year for Tilem & Campbell. Earlier this year, in March, Tilem & Campbell scored a disorderly conduct violation on another gun case from LaGuardia airport. Senior Partner Peter H. Tilem a former prosecutor, worked in the Firearms Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and has a tremendous amount of experience in handling New York gun cases and other types of New York weapons cases.

Travelers from other states to New York should be careful and take note of New York gun laws before bringing guns or other weapons into New York. Gun charges in New York are very serious and should be carefully examined before coming to New York. Anyone who is charged with a New York gun crime should contact an experienced handgun attorney.


July 13, 2010

As a prominent criminal defense firm our lawyers have become aware of the dramatic increases in knife arrests in New York City and we have been examining the defenses available to our client's who find themselves charged with possession of a gravity knife, switchblade or some other dangerous knife in New York. While this is not the forum to disclose the details of our defense strategies to our opponents, there are some generalities that need to be examined.
One of the most basic and obvious defenses is the knife itself. Does it function the way the police say it functions. A surprising number of knives that the police claim are gravity knives or switchblades do not constitute the legal definition to make them illegal.

Another basic defense to any type of possession crime involves the constitutionality of the police conduct. Why the the police stop you, search you and seize the knife? If the police acted illegally then the knife can be suppressed by the Court and the case dismissed.

In addition to issues pertaining to the function of the knife and the police conduct in recovering the knife, there are statutory exemptions which may provide a defense and permit certain people to certain knives under certain circumstances. For example New York law permits people with hunting or fishing licenses to possess switchblades under certain circumstances.

The Supreme Court has recently made clear in both its Heller and McDonald decisions that the right to keep and bear arms is a right of all citizens and in both cases the US. Supreme Court alluded to the possession of knives. It appears that the Second Amendment applies to knives and therefore you may have a constitutional defense to certain knive possession cases.

The bottom line is that defenses do exist to many knife cases. Despite the seriousness of these charges they can often be successfully challenged in Court. It is important to get an experienced criminal defense lawyer involved as early as possible in the process.


July 1, 2010

There are two local New York City laws that have been aggressively enforced in the five boroughs of New York City recently and our firm has seen numerous people charged with these offenses. They involve possession of a knife over 4 inches (4") and possession of a knife in public. Both laws can be found in the New York City Administrative Code §10-133.

Section 10-133(b) makes it an offense, punishable by up to 15 days in jail to possess any knife with a blade of 4" or more in length in a public place. This very broadly worded statute can include use of a steak knife at the outdoor seating area of a restaurant and a whole bunch of other innocent situations.

Section 10-133(c) makes it an offense to possess any knife in public view or wear a knife which is outside the clothing of any size in any public place. Again, this statute makes it an offense to possess knives in New York City in a wide variety of innocent situations including at block parties, picnics or barbeques.

The bottomline is that anyone carrying a knife in New York City is subject to being arrested either pursuant to the administrative code or pursuant to the New York State Penal Law sections that we discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series. If you or anyone you know has been stopped, arrested or charged in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens or any other place in New York should contact Tilem & Campbell, 24 hours a day at 877-377-8666.


June 28, 2010

The United States Supreme Court has issued a ruling applying the US Constitution, Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" to State and local gun regulation. Ruling in the case of McDonald v. Chicago a 5 to 4 majority of justices decided for the first time that both State and local gun laws must not violate the Second amendment. While this is a landmark decision, it answers very few questions. It did not give any guidelines as to what regulations were permissible and what regulations were not and it even left to the lower Court the issue of whether the Chicago Law in question violated the Second Amendment.

This decision is likely to spur more litigation than it resolved by opening up litigation to strike down local gun regulation all over the Country. New York gun laws which are among the toughest in the Country will almost certainly be challenged under this ruling.

Tilem & Campbell, PC is criminal defense firm that handles a vast array of gun and weapons related cases in both State and Federal Courts and maintains the website Senior Partner, Peter H. Tilem is a former prosecutor assigned to the Firearms Trafficking Unit of the New York County District Attorney's Office, is a member of the NRA and has vast experience in handling gun and weapons related litigation.


June 23, 2010

As experienced criminal defense lawyers we have been seeing an increase in the number of people contacting us after being arrested with a knife. In our continuing effort to educate the public about criminal law, this series will summarize New York State and New York City Knife laws. In Part 1 we discussed what are referred to as "per se" weapons. Weapons or in this case knives that mere possession of constitutes a crime. In part 2 we will discuss knives that are only illegal if you have intent to use that knife illegally against another person but as you will see there is a twist to that requirement. In Part 3 we will discuss knife laws that are particular to New York City only and do not apply other places in New York State.

New York State Penal Law §265.01 (2) makes it illegal to possess any dirk, razor, dangerous knife, dagger or stiletto only if there is intent to use it unlawfully against someone else. The problem develops in Penal Law §265.15 where the law actually creates a presumption that a person who possesses a dagger, stiletto, dirk or dangerous knife has the intent to use it unlawfully against someone else if it is made, adapted or designed primarily for use as a weapon. And its hard to know exactly what that means. What does it mean that a knife is made primarily for use as a weapon?

The answer is unclear. In Queens a Criminal Court judge ruled that possession of a dagger without more was sufficient to make out a charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. People v. Nwogu. In Manhattan, another Criminal Court Judge ruled that possession of a knife combined with a statement that the knife was for self defense was enough to make out a charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. The judge reasoned that by stating that it was for self defense it shows that the defendant considered the knife a weapon and therefore the presumption applied but that judge ruled that if the defendant had remained silent that the evidence would be insufficient. People v. Richards.

So as you can see, one who carries a knife of any kind in New York faces a substantial risk of arrest and prosecution. If you have any questions about knife charges in New York or any other criminal charges, please contact Tilem & Campbell for a fast free and friendly consultation.


June 18, 2010

As criminal defense attorneys who handle a large number of gun and weapon charges we have seen an substantial increase in clients who come to us with charges relating to possession of knives. Now, in the wake of the New York Post article which reported that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office has entered into a deal with retailers such as Home Depot, Eastern Mountain Sports and Paragon Sports to stop the sale of many folding knives it seems appropriate to review the legality of knives in New York.

As we wrote in our April 2, 2009 blog, New York State Penal Law sec. 265.01 makes it a crime to possess any of the following knives: a gravity knife; switchblade knife; pilum ballistic knife; metal knuckle knife; and cane sword. The problem starts with the definition of "Gravity Knife" from the New York State Penal Law. Sec. 265.00 (5) states that a Gravity Knife is any knife that can be opened by gravity or the application of centrifugal force. What the latter part means is that if the knife can be "flicked" opened (centrifugal force), it is illegal to possess. It gets more complicated if you think that a large, experience police officer can probably "flick" open any knife given a couple of attempts and enough force and so virtually any lock-blade pocket knife can probably be considered a switchblade. It is this "gravity knife" issue that caught up major retailers like Home Depot.

Additional issues arise from the "exemptions", which are defenses listed in the Penal Law. These are codified in Penal Law §265.20(6) an make it legal to possess a gravity knife or switchblade for use while hunting, fishing or trapping by a person carrying a valid license (for hunting, trapping or fishing).

In the next part of this series we will explore the legality of daggers, dirks, stilettos, dangerous knives and razors. In the meantime, these complicated and ambiguous knife laws are getting innocent people caught up in the criminal justice system. Be careful and if you or any loved ones are charged with a weapons related offense contact Tilem & Campbell for a free consultation. .


March 20, 2010

New York criminal defense law firm Tilem & Campbell scored a major victory in another New York gun case, this one involving a loaded pistol at LaGuardia Airport. The client, was arrested in LaGuardia airport after he attempted to check a loaded pistol in at the airline ticket counter. The ticket agent called police who arrested him and charged him with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree under New York's relatively new gun law that requires a mandatory minimum of 3 1/2 years in prison for possession of a loaded firearm. The passenger who was in New York on business had a license for the pistol; from another state which was not valid in New York State.
The case was resolved last week when the client pled guilty to Disorderly Conduct which is not a crime in New York State and paid $370 in fines and Court costs. The felony charge was dismissed and the client will have no criminal record as a result of the reduction.
Cases such as this are common in Queens which has two busy airports within its borders. Gun laws are very different in New York than they are in most other places in the United States so unsuspecting, law-abiding citizens often get caught in New York transportation hubs such as the local airports.
Tilem & Campbell, senior partner Peter H. Tilem, a former member of the New York County District Attorney's Office, Firearms Trafficking Unit has a lot of experience with all types of weapons cases and has scored a string of successes in New York gun cases in recent years. Including the outright dismissal of two gun cases. In one such case, Mr. Tilem used the Federal Traveler's Defense to win the dismissal of a loaded gun charge in the Bronx.
Tilem & Campbell is based in White Plains, New York and handles criminal cases throughout the New York metropolitan area.

New York City Mace Issue Has Sparked Interest

October 5, 2009

Our July 15, 2009 blog on the Auxiliary Police Officer arrested for possession of Mace has sparked tremendous interest with many calling our firm or writing in about the issue and many wanting to find out how to obtain a New York City permit for mace. Some have contacted us about there failed efforts to obtain information about the permit from the New York City Police Department. The regulations are summarized in our May 24, 2009 blog. So I leave it to you; if any one knows how to obtain a New York City permit for mace, please comment to this blog, or contact Tilem & Campbell with the information. I will publish the results in a future blog.


July 15, 2009

As outlined in our May 24, 2009 blog New York City bans certain items that are legal other places in New York State and most other places in our Country. New York City Auxiliary Police Officer Alexander Gonzalez found that out the hard way when he was arrested, while on duty, in Manhattan for possession of mace. Mace is one of those items which is illegal in New York City but was made legal in New York State in 1996.

New York City Auxiliary Police Officers are neither police officers or peace officers under New York Law and therefore are not entitled to possess any weapons that civilians are not also entitled to possess. Senior partner, Peter H. Tilem was interviewed for an article written about the case today.

Tilem & Campbell handles a large number of gun and weapons charges in New York and has seen an increase in overly aggressive enforcement of minor weapons violations in New York City for items such as Mace and knives.

New York City Bans Items that are Common and Lawful Most Other Places in New York State and in the Country.

May 24, 2009

New York City Administrative Code §10-131 prohibits the possession of common items which are lawful in most other parts of New York State and the Country. As a criminal defense attorney with experience in so many different weapons offenses I see many clients who innocently bring these items into New York City and find themselves facing extremely serious criminal charges.
A brief list of the items banned in New York City is as follows:

1. Air Pistols and Air Rifles. The Sale and possession are illegal in New York City pursuant to 10-131(b).

2. Sale of certain toy pistols pursuant to 10-131 (d) is illegal in New York City.

3. Sale or possession of mace, tear gas or pepper spray is illegal in New York City without a permit pursuant to 10-131(e). This is so even though in 1996 the New York State legislature repealed the law making self-defense sprays illegal state wide. These self-defense sprays are currently legal, without a permit outside New York City.

4. Sale or possession of certain toy or imitation pistols is illegal in New York City. 10-131 (g).

5. Carrying or possessing rifles and shotguns. These guns are available for sale outside of New York City without a license. Possessing them in New York City without a special license can be a misdemeanor or an offense. 10-131 (h).

6. It is illegal to sell or dispose of ammunition or ammunition feeding devices in the City of New York unless you are “authorized pursuant to law.” However a person who lawfully possesses such items may dispose of them to a dealer in firearms. 10-131 (i) 1.

7. It is unlawful for a gun dealer to sell ammunition to a licensed gun owner if he sells ammunition that cannot be fired from the firearms the gun owner is licensed to possess. 10-131 (i) 2.

8. It is illegal for a person not authorized to possess a pistol in New York City to possess any pistol ammunition. This is so even if you are authorized to possess a pistol some place outside of New York City and the ammunition is in your “shooting bag” in the trunk of your car. 10-131 (i) 3.

9. Even if you have a license to possess a pistol in New York City it is unlawful to possess ammunition of a different caliber. 10-131 (i) 4.

10. It is illegal to possess an ammunition feeding device (a magazine) unless you are authorized to possess a pistol that uses such device or except under other limited circumstances. 10-131 (i) 6.

11. It is unlawful for anyone to dispose of an ammunition feeding device except a gun dealer may sell one to a person authorized to possess the same caliber of pistol or a person authorized to possess it may sell it to a gun dealer. 10-131 (i) 7.

12. New York City has its own definition of assault weapons under Administrative Code Section 10-303.1. Possession of Assault Weapons in New York City are a crime and can subject a person to additional Civil Penalties of up to $10,000 per Assault Weapon.

The bottom line is be careful in New York City. Many people who lawfully possess these items in other States or Cities get caught in their cars or at the airports and find themselves facing serious charges. If you find yourself charged with any violation of these laws remember many of these offenses are crimes and can subject you to jail, fines, probation and leave you with a permanent criminal record.

If you have any questions or have been charged with any criminal offense contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.


April 15, 2009

New York criminal defense lawyers, especially those that handle New York gun possession cases, know that New York has some of the most onerous laws restricting the possession, ownership and use of weapons of all types. This blog presents a brief overview of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (CPW 3rd) (See NY Penal Law 265.02).

There are several ways one may commit CPW 3rd. First, a person is guilty of CPW 3rd in New York if they commit the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (CPW 4th) and have been previously convicted of any crime. [See Penal Law 265.02(1) for exact wording] .

Second, one is guilty of CPW 3rd if they possess any incendiary or explosive bomb, bombshell, silencer, machine gun or any other firearm or weapon simulating a machine-gun and which is adaptable as a machine gun. [See Penal Law 265.02(2) for exact wording] .

Third, a person is guilty of CPW 3rd if they knowingly possess a firearm, machine-gun, rifle or shotgun which has been defaced to conceal or prevent the detection of a crime or to misrepresent the identity of such weapon. [See Penal Law 265.02(3) for exact wording].

Fourth, a person is guilty of CPW 3rd if they possess three or more firearms or possess at least one firearm while having been convicted on a Class “A” Penal Law Misdemeanor within the previous five years. [See Penal Law 265.02(5) for exact wording].

Finally, one is guilty of CPW 3rd if they knowingly possess a disguised gun, possess an assault weapon or a large capacity ammunition feeding device. [See Penal Law 265.02(6)-(8) for exact wording]. Note, possession of a disguised gun must be “knowingly”.

For more information about CPW 3rd or any other weapons offense, conatct Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us at


April 2, 2009

Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (CPW 4th) is a class “A” misdemeanor in New York punishable by up to one year in jail. There are several ways one can commit the crime of CPW 4th. (There are also exemptions to the statute which will be discussed in future blogs). If you have been charged with a weapons offense, you need experienced criminal defense attorneys to defend you.

One is guilty of CPW 4th if he or she possesses any: (1) firearm; (2) electronic dart gun; (3) electronic stun gun; (4) gravity knife; (5) switchblade knife; (6) pilum ballistic knife; (7) metal knuckle knife; (8) cane sword; (9) billy; (10) blackjack; (11) bludgeon; (12) plastic knuckles; (13) metal knuckles; (14) chuka stick; (15) sand bag; (16) sandclub; (17) wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot; and (18) shirken or “Kung Fu star”. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(1)].
One is also guilty of CPW 4th if he or she possesses any of the following weapons with
the intent to use it against another unlawfully: (1) dangerous knife; (2) dagger; (3) dirk; (4) razor; (5); imitation pistol; or (6) any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(2)].

One is also guilty of CPW 4th if they knowingly possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in a school or on school grounds including colleges and universities or in a school bus. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(3)]. Further, one convicted of a felony or serious offense may not possess a rifle or shotgun. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(4)]. Nor may a non-citizen possess a dangerous or deadly weapon. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(5)]. One is also guilty of CPW 4th if they have been certified not suitable to possess a shotgun or rifle and refuse to surrender such upon the demand of a police officer. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(6)].

Finally, one is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree if they possess a bullet containing an explosive material designed to explode on impact [See NY Penal Law 265.01(7)] or if they possess armor piercing ammunition with the intent to use it against another unlawfully. [See NY Penal Law 265.01(8)].

As I said above, there are many exceptions to the statute which I will discuss in a future blog. If you have been charged with any weapons offense contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at


February 8, 2009

“Switchblade Knife” is defined in New York as any knife that has a blade which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device within the knife’s handle. (For the exact definition of “Switchblade Knife” see NY Penal Law § 265.00(4)).

It is an “A” Misdemeanor to possess a switchblade knife (Penal Law § 265.01(1) – Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree). However, it is not a crime to possess a switchblade knife if it is for use while fishing, hunting or trapping and you have a valid license to fish, hunt or trap issued pursuant to section 11-0713 of the New York Environmental Conservation Law (See Penal Law § 265.20(a)(6).

Although not stated in the statute, in order to be convicted in New York of illegally possessing a switchblade knife, you must “knowingly” possess the knife (See Model Jury Charge for Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (CJI 2d N.Y. Penal Law § 265.01(1); People v. Ford, 66 N.Y.2d 428, 440, 497 N.Y.S.2d 637).

For example, in People v. Wood, 869 N.Y.S.2d 401 (1st Dept. 2008), defendant’s conviction was overturned where the trial judge refused to instruct the jury that the prosecution had to prove that defendant knew the item he possessed was in fact a switchblade knife.

If you or a loved one have been charged with any New York weapons offense including illegal possession of switchblade knife, illegal possession of a pistol or possession of any other weapon, contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 for a free consultation or visit us on the web at or


December 20, 2008

As discussed in the previous blog, under certain circumstances, all occupants of a vehicle can be presumed to possess drugs, guns or other weapons found within the vehicle. We also discussed the effect of the presumption on the New York criminal case and went into some detail about the presumption as it applies to New york gun cases and New York Weapon cases.

Now we discuss the vehicle presumption as it applies to New York controlled substance cases. With certain drug possession offenses carrying a mandatory minimum of eight years, the stakes are very high when traveling in a vehicle with someone who may possess illegal drugs. Similar to the gun presumption, New York’s drug presumption applies to all vehicles except public buses (it applies in stolen vehicles unlike the gun presumption). According to a strict reading of the statute, the drug presumption applies to all persons in the vehicle at the time the drugs are found. Since generally the police take all of the occupants out of the vehicle, I would argue that in such a case the presumption does not apply.

Like the gun presumption, the drug presumption does not apply in three circumstances. The presumption does not apply to a cab driver or livery cab driver. It does not apply if a person in the vehicle is authorized to possess the controlled substance (has a prescription for the drug) and the drug is in the same packaging as when he received it. The presumption also does not apply when the drugs are found on the person of one of the occupants.

It is also important to remember that since the presumption only applies to controlled substances and marihuana (or marijuana) is not a controlled substance under New York Law, the presumption does not apply to marihuana.

If you are charged with any New York narcotics offenses contact one of the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Tilem & Campbell.


December 17, 2008

New York Criminal Law establishes a presumption that all people in a vehicle are presumed to possess either drugs or guns that are found within the vehicle. What that means is that in New York each and every person inside a car will generally be charged with gun possession or drug possession for contraband that is found anywhere in that car, regardless of where the drugs or guns are found. (With certain exceptions, some of which are discussed below.)


In the case of gun, with possession of a loaded gun in New York carrying a mandatory minimum of three and one half years in prison, you are taking a tremendous chance driving with someone who may have an illegal gun. The New York gun presumption applies to all vehicles except stolen vehicles and public buses and applies not only to firearms but other weapons. The presumption has three major exceptions. The presumption does not apply if the weapon is recovered on the person of one of the occupants of the vehicle. It does not apply to the driver of a cab or livery cab and the presumption does not apply if one of the occupants has a license to carry the weapon concealed.

The presumption, however, does apply if one of the occupants has the firearm or other weapon on his person and discards it on the floor of the vehicle as the police are pulling over the vehicle. This situation can arise quickly and put everyone in the vehicle at risk under the presumption.

To learn about New York's vehicle presumption as it applies to New York drug cases click here.


It is important to remember that both the drug and gun (or weapon) presumptions under New York law are rebuttable presumptions. That means that although there is a presumption that all occupants of the vehicle are presumed to possess the contraband, evidence can be introduced to show that in fact one or more of the occupants did not possess the contraband. In other words, the presumption does not relieve the prosecutor of his or her burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It also gives the person charged under the presumption automatic standing to challenge the constitutionality of the police conduct. That means that it gives a person charged under a presumption the right to seek suppression of evidence that they might not otherwise to be able to challenge.

So if you or a loved one are charged with a New York weapon offense or a New York gun offense under New York’s gun presumption or a New York Controlled Substance offense under New York’s controlled substance presumption, contact an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer who has experience in these types of cases. Contact Tilem & Campbell for any questions about New York criminal matters.


December 5, 2008

If you are charged with a New York gun or New York firearm offense it is imperative that your criminal defense attorney be completely familiar with the legal definitions of relevant terms. These definitions are found in New York Penal Law § 265.00. In this blog I will summarize several legal definitions applicable to Articles 265 and 400 of the New York State Penal Law. For more information visit our website.


Generally, a firearm silencer is anything that silences, lessens or muffles the sound of the firing of a revolver, gun, pistol or other firearm (for the exact definition of “firearm silencer” see NY Penal Law § 265.00(2).

FIREARM – PENAL LAW § 265.00(3)

Several guns fall under the New York State definition of “firearm”. A revolver or pistol, as well as a shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length are all considered firearms for purposes of Articles 265 and 400 of the Penal Law. A rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length is also considered a firearm. Furthermore, any shotgun or rifle altered, modified or otherwise having a length less than 26 inches is considered a firearm as is an assault weapon. (For the exact definition of firearms see Penal Law § 265.00(3)). With regard to rifles and shotguns, the length of the barrel of a rifle or shotgun is the distance between the muzzle and the face of the bolt, breech, or breechlock when closed and when the rifle or shotgun is cocked. With regard to an altered or modified shotgun or rifle, the overall length of such a firearm is the distance between the extreme ends of the weapon. (See Penal Law § 265.00(3)). Finally, an antique firearm in not included in the definition of a firearm.

Several of the terms used in the definition of firearm are themselves individually defined in Penal Law § 265.00. For example, “Rifle”, “Shotgun”, “Antique firearm”, and “Assault weapon” are separately defined and therefore a review and understanding of these terms is imperative to a full understanding of the term “firearm”. In future blogs I will discuss these term in more detail.

If you or a loved one has been charged with any firearm or weapons offense, put the experience of a former firearms trafficking prosecutor to work for you. Feel free to call 1-888-ANY-CRIME for a free telephone consultation or visit or


December 1, 2008

In the introduction of my series of blogs pertaining to firearms, gun possession and other weapons charges, I discussed the need for experienced and competent legal representation. I also explained that Tilem & Campbell’s Senior Partner Peter Tilem was formerly an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and worked extensively in the Gun Trafficking Unit.

In this blog I will discuss the legal definition of a “machine gun”. Offenses pertaining to firearms and other dangerous weapons are found in Article 265 of the New York State Penal Law. Section 265.00 of the Penal Law (which is the first section of Article 265) contains the definitions for terms used in Article 265 as well as Article 400 of the Penal Law.

MACHINE GUN – NY PL § 265.00(1)
For purposes of Article 265 and 400 of the Penal Law, a machine gun means any weapon irregardless of its description, size or name, whether loaded or unloaded from which bullets or shots may be continuously and rapidly fired with one continuous pull of the trigger. This definition includes a sub-machine gun. (For the exact definition of a machine gun see NY PL § 265.00(1))

Recently in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008), the United States Supreme Court found unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds a District of Columbia’s ban on one’s possession of a firearm in one’s home. However, the Supreme Court indicated that the Second Amendment does not protect firearms not typically possessed by lawful individuals for lawful purposes. Accordingly, the Heller, decision noted that machine guns, M-16s and short-barrel shotguns were not protected by the Second Amendment.

However, unlike the definition of a “firearm” (discussed in a future blog) an interesting point about the definition of a machine gun is that it must be operable. Indeed, to paraphrase the definition, a machine gun must be a weapon from which a shot or number of bullets may be rapidly or automatically discharged. (NY PL § 265.00(1)).

In future blogs pertaining to machine guns, I will be discussing some of the charges one might face for possession of an operable machine gun (Penal Law § 265.01(2)) as well as possession of an operable machine gun with intent to use it unlawfully against another person. (Penal Law § 265.03(1)(a)).

As always, if you have been arrested or think you might be wanted for any type of firearm, gun, or other weapons charge, contact Tilem & Cambpell toll free at 1-888-ANY-CRIME or visit us on the web at or


November 27, 2008

If you have been charged in New York or in Federal Court with any type of gun possession, firearm offense or other offense involving weapons or dangerous instruments, you must have qualified and experienced legal representation. The stakes are high. In New York, simply possessing a loaded, operable, unlicensed firearm outside your home or business carries a mandatory minimum 3 ½ year sentence if convicted. That means if you are convicted, you will do a minimum of 3 ½ years “upstate” prison time.
Tilem & Campbell can provide you the skilled legal representation you need should you be charged with a firearms offense. Not many attorneys can match Senior Partner Peter Tilem’s experience, expertise and inside knowledge of firearm and gun offense prosecutions. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Tilem spent ten years as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. For several of those years, Mr. Tilem was with the Firearms Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office which was a multi-agency operation combining New York State, New York City and Federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the ATF in multi-jurisdictional illegal gun trafficking investigations and prosecutions. As part of his prosecutorial duties with the firearms trafficking unit, Mr. Tilem traveled the east coast investigating and building cases against those involved with illegal firearms distribution.
Certainly there are other highly qualified defense attorneys. However, if you are charged with a gun, firearm or other weapons offense, ask your attorney or potential attorney if they have ever worked as an Assistant District Attorney investigating and prosecuting multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency gun and firearm trafficking cases firsthand. Their answer will most likely be no. Ask Peter Tilem of Tilem & Campbell if he has first hand experience in investigating and prosecuting these cases and the answer will be absolutely yes.
The results speak for themselves. Few attorneys have enjoyed the level of success that Tilem & Campbell has enjoyed in winning difficult New York and federal gun cases.
If you have been charged with any type of firearm offense in New York visit or for more information about our firm or call toll-free 1-888-ANY-CRIME.


September 25, 2008

New York Criminal Defense Law Firm, Tilem & Campbell, scored another major victory in a New York gun case when it won a complete dismissal of all charges in a Bronx County case yesterday. The original charges included Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. The Defendant faced a minimum sentence of 3 and 1/2 years in prison on the Second Degree charge which is a class "C" violent felony.

The case was won using a little known Federal Defense that provides a defense to gun charges in all 50 states for those transporting firearms from one place where they may legally possess that gun to another such place if done so in accordance with federal law.

The victory comes on the heels of a string of major victories in the past three months for Tilem & Campbell which included another dismissal of felony gun charges in a Brooklyn Gun case in June and the sentencing earlier this month to house arrest for a person charged in Federal Court with trafficking in a large number of firearms from Texas to New York. Unfortunately, the firm suffered one loss back in June when a Tilem & Campbell client was convicted by a jury of gun possession.

Yesterday's case received significant media attention with articles being published around the web about the use of the Federal Defense to defeat one of New York State's stringent gun laws. Articles appeared on , Reuters and the Earth Times to name just a few of many articles.

To speak to an attorney about the Federal Travelers Defense or any Weapon or gun related issue contact an attorney at Tilem & Campbell or visit

Brooklyn Felony Gun Case - Tilem & Campbell Scores Big Victory

June 12, 2008

New York Criminal Attorney’s Tilem & Campbell scored a major victory in Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday when prosecutors agreed to dismiss all charges in a Kings County felony gun possession case. Peter Tilem, Senior Partner at Tilem & Campbell and former prosecutor in the Firearms Trafficking Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office handled the case for the client.

The case started back in August 2006 with a felony gun possession arrest in Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct. Police from the 75th Precinct’s elite Anti-Crime Unit claim to have stopped the vehicle the suspect was driving for not wearing a seatbelt directly in front of his apartment building. They further claim that his license was suspended and that he didn’t have identification on him. The police claim the suspect’s wife offered to go up to her apartment to get his identification and that when she didn’t come back down they went upstairs to find out what happened.

Police further claim that when they arrive on the suspect’s floor they smelled the odor of Marijuana (spelled marihuana in the New York State Penal Law) and that when the suspect’s wife opened the door they observed marihuana in plain view. The suspect’s wife then consented to a search of the entire apartment. Police claim to have found a pistol in the apartment.

Mr. Tilem relentlessly fought the case by attacking the credibility of the police and the warrantless search of the apartment. In the end after suppression hearings were completed Mr. Tilem discovered that the police officers were interviewed by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and that the interviews were tape recorded. Those tapes had not been turned over to Mr. Tilem who obtained copies and convinced the Court to allow him to reopen the hearing and cross-examine the police officer with his prior taped interviews.

When the case was finally ready to go to trial yesterday, the King’s County District Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss the case because they felt they could no longer prove the case. According to Mr. Tilem’s review of the case, there were just too many inconsistencies revealed during the cross-examination of the Police Officer at the suppression hearing.

The client, who originally was offered a plea bargain of 1-3 years in State Prison when he was represented by a Court appointed lawyer was ecstatic walking out of Court yesterday. Yesterday the Judge dismissed all charges including the charge of Driving with a Suspended License and sealed the record of arrest. The client was needless to say ecstatic walking out of Court and ending his nearly two year nightmare with the New York Criminal Justice system.


May 22, 2008

New York City Administrative Code 10-133(b) (Unlawful Possession of Knives or Instruments), makes it illegal to possess a knife with a blade of four inches or more in any public place in New York City. Criminal Lawyers and Judges have struggled with this section for years because the reach of the statute is so broad and because of how easy it is to violate this statute.

Firstly, there is no specific “mens rea” or mental culpability required for this offense. Most criminal statutes require a person to act intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. This statute does not even require that the person knowingly possess the knife. Most weapons offenses require that the possession be knowing possession. In addition, as all of us know, knives have many legitimate uses and even the average kitchen knife has a blade length over four inches. To demonstrate the reach of this statute, over twenty years ago a Queens Criminal Court Judge ruled that the statute could be applied to a Sikh priest who had the knife as part of a genuine religious observance.


Last month another Queens Criminal Court Judge ruled that possessing a knife over four inches in a car is not a violation of this New York City Administrative Code section since a person’s car, even though on a public street, is not a “public place.” In the recent Queens case, the knife was seen in the center console of a vehicle that was stopped by the police for a routine traffic infraction. The Court ruled that the center console of a person’s vehicle is not a public place and dismissed the New York City Administrative Code violation.

Unlawful Possession of a Knife is a violation, not a crime under the New York City Administrative Code. Although only a violation, a person accused of violating this section faces up to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.
If you, a family member or friend receive a summons or are arrested for violating the New York City Administrative Code, take the matter seriously and contact an experienced New York Criminal Attorney.