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A comparison of weapons charges in New York

Many factors determine the severity of a weapons possession charge. A conviction on a first-degree offense will result in a class B felony on a person's record. Charges in this category arise when someone has a weapon with an explosive substance, according to Penal Code section 265.03. Additionally, the charge requires that the person has an intent to use the weapon in an unlawful manner against people or property. Possession of 10 or more firearms could also bring a first-degree charge.

Fourth-degree weapons possessions charges have a more far-ranging definition. Although firearms are included in the category, many other types of weapons qualify for fourth-degree charges. Examples of other weapons include switchblade knives, cane swords, electronic stun guns, daggers and slingshots. Furthermore, Penal Code section 265.01 adds the statement "any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon." Once again, the intent to use any of these weapons in an unlawful manner needs to be shown in order to support the charge.

Other situations in which a fourth-degree charge could be justified, even without any specific intent, are when a person has the weapon on the grounds of an educational institution or the person is already a convicted felon. Someone who is not a citizen of the United States could also receive this charge. A conviction of fourth-degree weapons possession would be considered a class A misdemeanor.

Those who have been issued weapons charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine how best to combat them. At the outset, the attorney might examine the evidence to see if it is sufficient to meet the requirements of the specific charges. The attorney may in some cases consider the possibility of entering into an agreement with the prosecutor that would involve a plea of guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced penalty being imposed.

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