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Articles Posted in GUN CRIMES

In a recent New York gun crime case decided by a New York City trial court, one of two defendants filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence. The court, looking at the circumstances surrounding the case, granted the defendant’s motion after considering the fact that the police officer that found the gun was not in immediate danger at the time of her search.  As a result, the charges were dismissed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a New York police officer was on duty around 9:00 one morning when she was notified that a violent altercation had occurred nearby. The call reported that a woman’s ex-boyfriend had brought out a gun during a fight in the woman’s home. After the fight, the ex-boyfriend left the house and got into his car, driving away.

The officer began looking for the vehicle belonging to the ex-boyfriend, who later became one of the defendants in this case. About an hour later, the woman involved in the case called the officer to report that she had found the defendant’s car and that one of the defendant’s friends was sleeping inside the car. The officer immediately arrived at the car and knocked on the window, instructing the defendant’s friend to open the door.

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In a recent New York gun crime case a the defendant unsuccessfully argued, on appeal, that his conviction should be reversed based on questionable scientific methodologies used by the prosecutor. Originally, the defendant was charged with criminal possession of a gun after a violent altercation in a store. After a jury found him guilty, the defendant appealed, arguing that the court should have conducted research as to whether or not the State’s methodology for extracting DNA evidence was scientifically legitimate. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court affirmed the guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon after an incident inside a local store. The State’s major piece of evidence at trial was video footage taken from a security camera inside the store. The footage showed a group of men holding the defendant against a shelf, then showed the men scattering the scene before the defendant himself ran away. Approximately two minutes later, the footage showed a police officer looking at the shelf where the defendant had been held, finding a gun in the space where only the defendant had just been standing.

Relying on this evidence, a jury found the defendant guilty, agreeing that the video footage sufficiently proved that the defendant had the gun on his person before the men in the group ran away.

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In a recent decision coming out of a New York court, the defendant’s appeal of his New York firearm conviction was denied. Originally, the defendant was charged after police officers found a firearm inside of his backpack while the defendant and some of his acquaintances were gathered in another person’s yard. On appeal, the defendant argued that the officers invaded his right to privacy. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two officers were on patrol one day when they drove past an empty house that they had seen many times while driving on the same street. They noticed that the house was boarded up with a padlock, a chain, and a “No Trespassing” sign in the front. Officers saw that a group of men had gathered in the backyard, and they exited their vehicle to go speak with the men.

Officers noticed that the men were passing a cigarette back and forth, as well as that the area smelled of marijuana. They also observed the defendant walk towards the back of the house with an object in his hand. The officers watched him then return to the group empty-handed.

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In a recent case coming out of a New York court, the defendant appealed his guilty conviction for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Officers searched for this weapon only because they had previously smelled marijuana in the defendant’s car, making them suspicious of additional drug or criminal activity. In his appeal, the defendant relied on a recently enacted law that legalizes possession of marijuana in certain amounts for individuals who are 21 or older in New York. The court acknowledged this new law but ultimately ruled that the law does not apply to convictions that occurred before the passage of the law in 2021. The Court found that the police officer had reasonable cause to believe that there was contraband located in the car, to wit marijuana.  At the time of the search, possession of marijuana was still illegal in New York.  Therefore, because the defendant was charged in 2018, he could not use the law to argue for his conviction to be overturned.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two police officers were patrolling one evening in his car when they noticed the defendant pull away from the curb without signaling. The officers signaled the defendant to pull over and then conducted a traffic stop. Once the defendant rolled down his car window, the officers immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana.

After the officers asked the defendant whether there was, in fact, marijuana in the car, the defendant answered in the affirmative and opened his center console. The officers found two bags of marijuana and $1,000 cash. Continuing to smell the marijuana, the officers searched other areas of the car and subsequently found a loaded firearm in the trunk.

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As New York firearms attorneys we reported in our December 28, 2021 blog about the new law regulating 80 percent lower receivers in New York, the law allows for a six month grace period.  However as has been reported in the news lately, the term “Ghost Gun” is the new boogie man for gun control supporting politicians and raids have been taking place before the new law even takes effect.  Please read this article and this one.

The problem for many gun owners begins when they unlawfully finish what started out as an 80 percent lower in one of two ways.  First, it is a serious felony under New York law to possess any handgun, even in one’s own home without a handgun license.  Once you complete the 80 percent lower into a handgun a person who doesn’t have a pistol license possesses an unregistered and unlicensed firearm, referred to by many politicians as a “ghost gun”.   The fact is that getting a handgun license in many New York counties, especially during the pandemic could take a year or more.  In addition, fully manufactured guns were hard to come by.  Some people took matters into their own hands and completed 80% lowers into functioning handguns.

Possession of a handgun without a license in your home or place of business is a class “E” felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison.  Possession of a loaded unlicensed and unregistered handgun outside your home or place of business is a class “C: violent felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3.5 years in State prison with a maximum sentence of 15 years.  Possession of 3 or more firearms makes it a “D” felony and possession of 5 or more firearms makes it a “C” felony.

In a recent New York gun case, the court in its decision denied the defendant’s appeal. Originally, the defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon after he had an altercation with a woman on the side of the road. On appeal, he argued that there was not enough evidence to support the guilty verdict. The court sustained the verdict, disagreeing with the defendant’s main argument.

Facts of the Case

The incident leading to this case unfolded one evening in 2017 when the defendant was charged after he got into a fight with a woman on the street. According to the victim, she and a friend were walking one evening when they were almost hit by a red car that appeared to be recklessly driving. The defendant in this case emerged from the passenger seat, beginning the altercation between the defendant and the victim. The defendant punched the victim in the face, grabbed her purse, and ran to the car. At the same time, the victim saw the defendant grabbing what appeared to be a gun.

The defendant then yelled at the victim, “I’m a shooter” and ran away. Several hours later, police officers found the defendant and searched his home. During this search, officers found a loaded handgun hidden in a boot. Later, the defendant was indicted and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, menacing in the second degree, and assault in the third degree.

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We wrote a very popular blog about whether you can take your lawfully possessed pistol on vacation with you in Puerto Rico, subsequent to the easing of gun laws in Puerto Rico.  Now we explore the gun laws in the US Virgin Islands and in particular whether you can take your pistol to St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

At first glance, the US Virgin Islands appears to have extremely liberal reciprocity laws however that appears to be far from reality.  A review of the USVI Police website clearly indicates that visitors are required to declare their firearms before arrival in the US Virgin Islands and to immediately report to the US Virgin Island Police Substation upon


USVI Police Airport Substation

In a recent New York case involving a defendant who was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon, the court reversed the original lower court’s guilty verdict. On appeal, the defendant argued that incriminating evidence found by police officers should have been suppressed since the officers did not have reason to believe they could search through his private apartment. The court agreed with the defendant, reversing the judgment in the case.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers originally responded to a 911 call made by a woman who reported that her roommate was unconscious on the floor of their apartment. A team of officers and medical personnel arrived at the apartment and discovered that the unconscious woman had died on the floor of the bathroom.

Soon after discovering the woman was dead, an officer decided to conduct a brief search of the residence. As he looked around, he found a digital scale, some powdery residue, and a bag with illegal drugs in the bedroom. Based on these findings, officers proceeded to obtain a warrant to search the entire apartment. They found not only illegal drugs but also a handgun, and the defendant was ultimately charged and convicted for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

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As New York gun rights attorneys we are carefully monitoring an increasing regulatory environment of everything related to firearms and an increasing number of gun owners who are receiving letters from law enforcement.    Recently we were consulted by a person who received a letter from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) concerning a solvent catcher that he had purchased years ago.

The problem arises due to the National Firearms Act (NFA) which put suppressors or silencers as they are commonly known in the same category of fully automatic machine guns and sawed off shotguns, making them highly regulated and requiring a background check, tax stamp, and long wait to legally own.  The do-it-yourself market which has become a lucrative market in general has also become popular among firearms enthusiasts many of whom enjoy building, modifying and customizing firearms and gun parts.  The same is true for the suppressor industry.

In an August 2019 article in the Verge, an article in which I was quoted, the writer details the wide availability of items such as “solvent traps”, “flashlight tubes”, barrel shrouds, fuel filters and solvent filters that can be used to make suppressors or silencers.  In addition, a search on Amazon for solvent trap at the time of writing this article produced a variety of items including a 1/2X28 tap and die set ideal for threading a 9mm barrel and a device for attaching to a 9mm barrel.

In October we wrote an extensive blog about the legality of 80% Lowers in NY and indicated at that time that the law in New York could be changing on eighty percent lowers because legislation was pending in Albany.  Well later the same day that we here at  Tilem & Associates posted that blog, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of new legislation which changed the legality of 80 percent lowers in New York.

Among the changes are the fact that that it will be illegal to possess an unfinished receiver or an unfinished frame often referred to as an eighty percent lower.   It becomes illegal to possess these unfinished frames or receivers from six months after the date the law becomes effective.  Unfinished frames and unfinished receivers are defined very broadly under the law and include any material that doesn’t constitute a receiver or frame but which has been formed and/or shaped to allow it to become a frame or receiver for a shotgun, rifle or pistol and which can be “readily” made into a receiver or frame that is functioning.   What readily made means is not defined so it is unknown if a receiver that is 70% finished, 60% finished or only 20% finished would be legal.

The new law makes it a crime to possess unfinished receivers or frames and makes it a separate crime to sell unfinished receivers or frames.  This would seemingly make it illegal for internet sellers of firearms parts to sell polymer 80 or other 80% lowers and ship them into New York State.

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