New York Defendant Successfully Appeals Gun Conviction, Highlighting Importance of Effective Counsel During Trial Proceedings

In a recent New York firearms case before the New York Court of Appeals, the defendant successfully asked for his conviction for criminal possession of a weapon to be overturned. The decision, issued at the end of 2023, illustrates the importance of choosing and retaining a thorough, knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense counsel, given that the court reversed the lower court’s order because the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial proceedings.  While this was ultimately a win, the defendant received 7 years in prison and probably served at least 4 years before ultimately having his conviction over turned because his attorney was not effective.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, this case began when officers on patrol pulled the defendant over for a standard traffic violation. When the officers asked for the defendant’s license and registration, the defendant was unable to provide either document, but instead pulled his hand out of his pocket and revealed a magazine clip. The officers asked the defendant to exit the vehicle, at which point they searched the car and found a bag with ammunition and a holster.

The defendant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. He pled not guilty, and his case went to trial. A jury found the defendant guilty as charged.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that he was entitled to a reversal because his attorney did not effectively represent him at trial. The issue, said the defendant, was that his attorney asked the jury to find that the defendant had only possessed the gun temporarily and lawfully. This request went against the evidence since it was clear from the defendant’s testimony that he had possessed the gun for over a year and that it was unlawful for him to own and carry the gun.

Instead, said the defendant, the attorney should have asked the jury to find that he should have been entitled to an acquittal because he was driving to voluntarily surrender the gun safely pursuant to a police authorized gun turn in program. His testimony indicated that he was enroute to a gun “buyback program” and that he legitimately needed the money that this program would provide.

The court reviewed this argument and agreed with the defendant. If the trial attorney had asked the jury to find that the defendant was voluntarily surrendering the gun, the jury would have been more likely to find that the defendant had a valid defense for his possession. The fact that the attorney failed to take this step rendered his assistance ineffective, and the defendant was, therefore, entitled to an entirely new trial. The court reversed the lower court’s order.

Are You Facing Gun Charges in the State of New York?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a gun crime in New York, give us a call at Tilem & Associates. We offer high-quality, thorough representation so that you can rest assured your case is being handled with precision the first time around. We handle all types of misdemeanor and felony cases on behalf of our clients. For a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, give us a call today at 877-377-8666. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and get in touch with us.


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