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As New York firearms lawyers we think it is important to keep the public updated on possible significant changes to New York gun laws. The idea of national concealed carry reciprocity is not a new idea but it is an idea that may be close to becoming law. The theory is very simple. If a driver’s license, which has been held by the Courts to be a privilege not a right, is valid in all 50 States than why isn’t a license to carry a gun, which has been held by the Courts to be right not a privilege, also valid in all 50 States. While different versions of the bill have been introduced in varying forms in Congress since at least 2008, President-Elect Trump has expressed an interest in signing such legislation.

Currently HR 923 entitled Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 has 121 cosponsors. The Companion bill in the Senate of the same name has 35 cosponsors.

The issue is how will New York law, which is notoriously hostile to gun owners, interact with a National Concealed Carry law. According to the Congressional Research Service HR 923 can be summarized as follows: “[HR 923 a]mends the federal criminal code to authorize a person who is not prohibited from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm under federal law, who is entitled and not prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm in his or her state of residence or who is carrying a valid state license or permit to carry a concealed weapon, and who is carrying a government-issued photographic identification document, to carry a concealed handgun (which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, other than a machine gun or destructive device) in any state in accordance with the restrictions of that state. [And,]

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In yet another victory in a New York firearms case, a Tilem & Associates client arrested in New York’s LaGuardia airport in September with an alleged “high capacity” magazine had all felony charges dismissed and only pled guilty to a non-criminal disorderly conduct, a violation but not a crime under the New York State Penal Law and paid a $250 fine. The record will be sealed.

New York State bans the possession of what it calls a “Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device.” NY Penal 265.00 (23). A Large Capacity Magazine Feeding Device is defined as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, that (a) has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition, or (b) contains more than seven rounds of ammunition, or (c) is obtained after the effective date of the chapter of the laws of two thousand thirteen which amended this subdivision and has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than seven rounds of ammunition . . .” Boiled down, and there are some exceptions, New York defines both a capacity limit and a load limit. Under New York Law, as written, one could either not possess a magazine with a CAPACITY of more than 10 rounds but if one had an old magazine with a ten round capacity one could only LOAD up to seven rounds into that magazine. An empty magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds is a class “D” violent felony under New York Law punishable by up to seven years in prison.

In the Federal case of NEW YORK STATE RIFLE AND PISTOL ASSOCIATION INC LLC v. Gerald J. Gill, the United States Court of Appeals struck down the seven round load limit finding it violated the Second Amendment but left the 10 round magazine capacity limit in place.

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Introduction

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.

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New York Criminal Defense Attorneys Tilem & Associates in a high profile case in Westchester County successfully negotiated a plea deal for a client charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of a 6 year old and helped the client avoid a jail sentence.

Homicide. Murder. Negligent homicide. Manslaughter. In the wake of the loss of a life, one may wonder, exactly what the difference in the terms mean? While the words can be confusing, there is an important difference between each charge. Homicide means conduct which causes the death of a person. The difference between murder, negligent homicide and manslaughter all depend on the culpable mental state alleged to be involved with the death of another. In another words did the person intentionally cause the death of someone or did they do so recklessly or with criminal negligence.

The statute, N.Y. Pen. Law § 125.10, spells out criminally negligent homicide in New York. Criminally negligent homicide represents the least serious of all homicide offenses in New York and in fact is the lowest level felony in the New York Penal law. The charge of criminal negligence means that person has failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a particular result will occur or that a particular circumstance exists. The risk is usually of such a nature and degree that failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. This charge is used when the accused lacked the intention of killing the victim, but should have known better than to complete acts which resulted in the victim’s death.

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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

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Two New York DWI cases were dismissed in back to back victories, in the same Court on the same day, yesterday. The unusual drama played out in a New York County Criminal Court courtroom, last week as the Judge dismissed DWI charges against two separate defendants. Both dismissals were based upon violations of the defendants’ speedy trial rights, although under two different theories and under two different sections of the New York Criminal Procedure Law. In addition, the two DWI’s were very different. One DWI was a refusal, charged as a “common law” DWI under sec 1192(3) of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law. The second DWI, was based upon a very high breath test, (.159) and was charged under VTL 1192 (2) and 1192 (3). Both were in very different procedural stages.

The first DWI charge to be dismissed, yesterday, was the DWI based upon a refusal to take a breath test. That dismissal was based upon a violation by the prosecutor of the defendant’s statutory speedy trial right codified under section 30.30 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law and which requires the prosecutors to be ready for trial within 90 days of the arraignment. (How that 90 days is calculated is the subject of other blogs on this site and is beyond the scope of this blog.) However, under the current state of the law (and there is a case up on appeal right now to clarify this issue) when a Driving While Intoxicated under VTL 1192 (2) or (3) is charged on the same docket as the traffic infraction of Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol under VTL 1192 (1) and the Driving While Intoxicated is dismissed for violation of statutory speedy trial rights, the Court cannot dismiss the lesser charge of Driving While Ability Impaired. Therefore, while the more serious DWI charge was dismissed, the defendant in that case is still charged with the lesser traffic infraction of DWAI.

The second DWI case to be dismissed yesterday was the case involving the very high breath reading of .159 (almost twice the legal limit of .08). The second case is about six months older than the first case. In this case, the DWI, the more serious charge, was dismissed approximately six months ago for violation of the defendant’s statutory speedy trial rights, leaving only the traffic infraction of Driving While Ability Impaired. After six months of the prosecutors not being ready for trial and making several motions to dismiss the remaining charge for violation of constitutional speedy trial rights (as opposed to statutory speedy trial rights), the Judge dismissed the sole remaining charge of Driving While Ability Impaired.

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New York Criminal Defense law firm, Tilem & Associates has seen an increase in the number of Reckless Driving tickets and other related moving violations, which is consistent with recent media reports that a crackdown on hazardous driving is underway by the NYPD. According to the media a 24 hour per day, 7 day per week crackdown will target drivers who speed, run red lights and use cell phones or other portable electronic devices. These violations which are among the most common also carry the most points and can have the greatest impact on a driver’s license and a driver’s insurance rates. A reckless driving ticket carries 5 points and is a criminal offense under New York Law, a cell phone ticket, which up until several years ago was a no-point violation now also carries 5 points. Speeding tickets can carry anywhere from between 3 and 11 points and Red light tickets carry 3 points. A motorist generally loses their license at 11 points.

The latest NYPD reckless driving crackdown is consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” plan which has the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and comes after a serious accident left a pedestrian serious injured after crossing Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn earlier this week.

“The good news for motorists is that an experienced traffic lawyer can generally get substantial reductions in the points associated with tickets and very often eliminate the points altogether,” according to traffic lawyer Jasmine Hernandez. “An experienced traffic lawyer can especially have the greatest impact on reckless driving tickets which are among the most serious,” according to Ms. Hernandez.

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The New York State Legislature has acknowledged that CPL140.10(1)(b) prohibits an officer from making an arrest or issuing an appearance ticket for a traffic infraction not committed in his or her presence and has determined that there are only three specific traffic infractions where an officer should be allowed to arrest or issue an appearance ticket despite the fact that said infractions were not committed in the officer’s presence.

Specifically, the New York State Legislature has authorized an officer to arrest or issue an appearance ticket in lieu of arrest where the motorist leaves the scene of an incident involving property damage in violation of VTL 600(1) or leaves the scene of an incident involving injury to certain animals in violation of VTL 601.

Indeed, VTL 602 states in pertinent part that an officer may arrest “in case of violation of section six hundred and section six hundred one, which in fact have been committed, though not in his presence, when he has reasonable cause to believe that the violation was committed by such person.” Therefore, with regard to VTL 600(1) and VTL 601, both non-criminal traffic infractions, the Legislature has determined that officers may arrest or issue appearance tickets even where said infractions are not committed in the officer’s presence.

Additionally, the Legislature has authorized an officer to arrest where the motorist has committed the violation of Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol in violation of VTL 1192(1) if the motorist was involved in an accident. The relevant statute, VTL 1194(1)(a) states in pertinent part:that a police officer may arrest a person, without a warrant in case of a violation of subdivision (1) of section 1192 of this article, “if such violation is coupled with an accident or collision in which such person is involved, which in fact has been committed, though not in the police officer’s presence, when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the violation was committed by such person.”

Accordingly, only if a motorist is believed to have committed VTL 600(1); VTL 601 or VTL 1192(1) involving an accident can an officer arrest even though these non-criminal traffic infractions were not committed in the officer’s presence.The Legislature’s Exclusion of Some Traffic Infractions From The Precepts Of CPL 140.10(1)(b) Establishes An Irrefutable Inference That Those Not Excluded Were Intentionally Not Excluded
That an officer may not arrest for non-criminal traffic infractions not committed in his presence except where said infraction is for violating VTL 600(1); VTL 601; and VTL 1192(1) involving an accident is supported by the Latin maxim “inclusio unius est exclusio alterius”. What this Latin Maxim means is that where a law expressly describes a situation where it applies, an irrefutable inference arises that what was excluded or omitted was intentionally excluded or omitted. This ancient rule of statutory construction is codified in New York Statutes 240 titled “Expression of one thing as excluding others”.

Section 240 states in pertinent part: “where a law expressly describes a particular act, thing or person to which it shall apply an irrefutable inference must be drawn that what is omitted or not included was intended to be omitted or excluded.” In other words, where a statute specifically mentions that said statute applies to one category of persons, said statute irrefutably implies the exclusion of other persons not specifically mentioned was intended by the Legislature. See e.g. Combs v. Lipson, 44 Misc.2d 467 (1964)(Holding that the express grant of power to one person excludes by implication the grant of same powers to another.).
The New York Legislature has in fact judicially created several exceptions to the general rule found in CPL 140.10(1) which prohibits an officer from making an arrest or issuing an appearance ticket for non-criminal traffic infractions not committed in his presence. These express exceptions created by the legislature pertain to violations of VTL 600(1); VTL 601 and VTL 1192(1) involving an accident.

It must be noted however that the Legislature did not except any other non-criminal traffic violations from the precepts of CPL 140.10(1). Therefore, under New York Statute 240, there is an irrefutable inference that the Legislature purposely chose not to exclude any other non-criminal traffic infractions from the precepts of CPL 140.10(1)(a).

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New York’s “move over” law was expanded starting at the beginning of this year (January 1, 2012) making it applicable to not only emergency vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road but now to “hazard vehicles”. The law, which originally went into effect last January originally only covered “emergency vehicles” those vehicles which are displaying either a red light or a combination of red and white lights such as a police, fire or emergency medical vehicle. Now, as of this year, the law also applies to “hazard vehicles” those vehicles which display one or more amber lights such as tow trucks, road service vehicles and highway crews.

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New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Sec 1144-a requires that drivers on a limited-access highway or parkway to exercise “due care” when approaching an emergency or hazard vehicle and defines due care as requiring at a minimum that the driver move from the lane adjacent to the shoulder where the emergency or hazard vehicle is stopped. In other words if the emergency vehicle is stopped on the right shoulder and you are driving in the right lane, you must move over to the center lane as you pass the emergency or hazard vehicle. Since moving over is not always possible on busy New York highways, the law does set the condition that you should move over only if it complies with other New York Vehicle & Traffic Laws such as moving from lane unsafely under V&TL 1128 and disobeying a traffic control device under V&TL 1110. In other words, if it is not safe to do so you or it is otherwise illegal to move over you should not. Rather, in that case you should slow down.

Violating the new “move over” law is a traffic infraction under New York Law punishable by a fine of $150, 2 points on you license and up to 15 days in jail although it should be emphasized that jail in not a likely possibility and that the points have been improperly reported in the media. The points count toward suspension of your driver’s license and/or the driver responsibility assessment.

Motorists should be warned that when section 1144-a originally went into effect last year the police were very aggressively enforcing the new law. We fully anticipate that the police will be aggressively enforcing all of the new provisions of section 1144-a. In addition motorists need to exercise extreme caution when they attempt to move over. The purpose of the law is safety and changing lanes create another risk. Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1144-a makes clear that you must observe all other Vehicle and Traffic Laws including but not limited to using your turn signal, changing lanes safely, complying with lane markings, signs and speed restrictions.

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An article in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “As Federal Crime List Grows, Threshold of Guilt Declines” focuses public attention on two trends that has long been followed by Federal Criminal Defense lawyers and has raised concerns among civil rights advocates and attorneys. The first trend, involving the rapid and uncontrolled growth of federal crimes (as distinguished from state crimes like murder, rape, assault, etc) has seen the number of federal crimes rise from just 20 to about 4500. The other trend is the erosion of the proof necessary to prove many federal crimes and send someone to prison.

The uncontrolled growth of federal criminal statutes has resulted in many individuals who are clearly not criminals getting caught up in the criminal justice systems for acts that they were clearly not aware constituted crimes. In legal thought there are generally considered two types of crimes. Crimes that are called in Latin malum in se, meaning wrong in itself are crimes that are generally obvious or inherently wrong or evil such as murder, stealing, assault or rape. The other type of crimes are called malum prohibitum in Latin, meaning wrong as prohibited are those crimes which are wrong only because they are prohibited by a statute such as gun possession, drug possession, copy write infringement, tax evasion or illegal immigration.

Since most crimes that are malum in se crimes, the obvious ones, have already been illegal, the new crimes are the malum prohibitum crimes, the crimes that are not so obvious. To make matters worse, according to the Wall Street Journal article, federal criminal offenses are not limited to one section of federal law but are scattered among 42 of the 51 titles of the United States Code. That means there is no one place where you can look to see if your acts are illegal. So the combination of having non obvious criminal offenses scattered all around the law results in frequent accidental transgressions of sometimes serious laws.