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Athletes not more prone to commit weapons crimes than average

We discussed New York Knicks' player Raymond Felton's recent arrest on weapons charges in our Feb. 25 blog post. To provide a brief recap, Felton turned himself in after police received a report that he was in illegal possession of a firearm. Felton had registered the gun in another state, but allegedly had not done so in New York. In New York, possessing a gun that is not registered in the state can be a felony; the state has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Incidents like this one create the impression in the minds of many New Yorkers, sports fans and non-fans alike, that professional athletes are dangerous. Because these arrests tend to make headlines, it may seem like professional football, basketball, hockey and baseball players are more likely than society at large to get into trouble involving guns.

That is not really the case, at least according to a sports psychologist and university professor. He cited statistics that showed that male athletes are no more likely to get arrested than men in other professions. It is because of athletes' celebrity status that causes the legal troubles of a few to become front page news.

This media attention creates the illusion that athletes are getting arrested every day. In fact, the other side of being rich and famous is the fear that you may be a target for criminal activity yourself. The professor said that many of them get a gun to protect themselves, but get into trouble when they do not get the proper education on how to use it safely.

Whether you play for the Knicks or not, a weapons charge in New York can be very serious. However, a criminal defense attorney can help by questioning whether the police followed proper procedure, and by helping to confront the evidence at trial.

Source: KSPR-TV, "Experts: Athletes, gun violence not endemic," Greg Botelho, Feb. 25, 2014

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