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SAFE Act ruling could mean more weapons charges in New York

In January of 2013, the New York Legislature passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, and the bill was quickly signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The SAFE Act gave New York some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Recently, the law was the subject of a federal court case over some of its provisions. The decision that was handed down held that the majority of the law was constitutional, meaning the state could prohibit automatic weapons and also magazines that carried more than ten rounds of ammunition. However, the court did declare that the provision which restricted individuals to only seven rounds in the magazine was unconstitutional.

Now that the law has been held to be valid, there may be several more arrests for weapons crimes throughout the state. According to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, there have been nearly 1,300 people arrested for crimes under the SAFE Act since March of 2013. Over 1,100 of those cases have led to felony charges for the individuals arrested. Those convicted of a felony under the SAFE Act can expect to receive serious jail time for the offense.

Some police departments have expressed uncertainties regarding what activities are actually prohibited under the law, which may be keeping arrest numbers down. Prosecutors are adding the charges later, as police departments in some jurisdictions have claimed that the provisions are too difficult for its officers to enforce.

It is expected that there will be several more challenges to the SAFE Act, which may eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court. While these cases are pending, it is extremely important that those individuals charged with a crime under the law are aware of some of the potential penalties that may result if they are eventually convicted of the offense.

If you have been charged with a weapons offense in New York, you need to take steps to begin preparing an aggressive defense to these accusations. Do not agree to speak to investigators until you have consulted with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the options available in your case.

Your attorney will be able to answer any questions that you may have regarding the charges and also explain the impact that a guilty plea or verdict will have upon your future. If you have been convicted of other serious crimes in the past, you may be facing enhanced penalties, including a long prison sentence. Police and prosecutors will do anything that they can to obtain a conviction, and you need an attorney to help you protect your rights.