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.
The men told the officers that they were smoking marijuana, and the officers wanted to investigate further. They noticed a backpack in the side yard, near where the defendant had been walking a few minutes prior. The officers walked to the backpack, opened it up, and found a firearm inside.
The defendant was later charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. After being found guilty, he appealed his conviction, arguing the evidence of the firearm should have been suppressed at trial. According to the defendant, the police officers acted illegally when they entered the house’s yard without permission or any circumstances justifying the entry. While the house did not belong to the defendant himself, he argued that he was a guest at the home and therefore could reasonably expect to have privacy while there.
The court looked at the circumstances surrounding the officers’ entry and ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal. According to the court, the owner of the house testified that the defendant did not actually have permission to be on his property – the defendant was a guest at the house next door, and therefore had no expectation of privacy in the neighbor’s yard.
Similarly, the court decided that the officers’ search of the defendant’s backpack was lawful, given that the police officer asked the group of men if the bag belonged to anyone and the defendant did not speak up. Once the officers found the firearm, they had the right to arrest the defendant on charges of firearm possession.
Given these facts, the court denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed his original guilty conviction.
Have You Been Charged with a Firearms Offense in New York?
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