New York takes an aggressive approach to enforcing gun laws – and to penalizing people who break those laws. If you or one of your loved ones was charged with gun crimes in New York, you risk facing years of incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, loss of your gun privileges, and other serious penalties. You will also be burdened with a permanent criminal record, which can be extremely disruptive when you are trying to find a job or get approved for a loan. This article will review offense grading and criminal penalties for selling guns in New York City, which is called “criminal sale of a firearm.”
When Can You Be Charged with Selling Weapons in NY? Is it a Felony?
Like most states, New York divides criminal offenses into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are further divided into five alphabetical classes – Class E, Class D, Class C, Class B, and Class A – with an added designation of either “violent” or “non-violent.” The closer the letter is to the beginning of the alphabet, the greater the penalties for a conviction.
In addition to classes, offenses are also categorized by “degree,” which is a number ranging from one to seven. The lower the number, the more serious the offense.
Criminal sale of a weapon is always a felony under New York’s criminal statutes, never a misdemeanor, which means defendants risk extremely serious consequences if they are found guilty. The charge may be graded as a:
- Class D Felony (NY Penal Law § 265.11) – Criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree
- Class C Felony (NY Penal Law § 265.12) – Criminal sale of a firearm in the second degree
- Class C Felony (NY Penal Law § 265.16) – Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
- Class C Felony (NY Penal Law § 14) – Criminal sale of a firearm with the aid of a minor
- Class B Felony (NY Penal Law § 265.13) – Criminal sale of a firearm in the first degree
The way a charge is classified – and in turn, the penalties a defendant may face – will depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense. For instance, criminal sale in the third degree, which is a Class D felony, is charged under NY Penal Law § 265.11 when an unauthorized person either:
- Owns a gun with intent to sell it.
- Sells or otherwise gives away a gun or a large capacity ammunition feeding device.
When the offense involves five to nine guns, it is charged as a Class C felony. When it involves 10 or more guns, it is charged as a Class B felony.
Under NY Penal Law § 265.00, a “firearm” is any of the following weapons:
- Assault weapons
- Rifles shorter than 16 inches
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Shotguns shorter than 18 inches
Criminal Penalties: Does NY Have Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Sale of a Firearm?
Criminal sale of a firearm is classified as a violent felony, regardless of how the offense is labeled by class or degree. Therefore, convicted defendants are subject to New York’s sentencing laws for violent felonies, which impose strict mandatory minimum terms. Judges, who normally have discretion over the length of a sentence, are powerless to override these terms.
Mandatory minimum sentences for violent felony offenses are consolidated under NY Penal Law § 70.02, which contains the following provisions (italics our emphasis):
- “For a Class D [violent] felony, the term must be at least two years and must not exceed seven years.”
- “For a Class C [violent] felony, the term must be at least three and one-half years and must not exceed 15 years.”
- “For a class B [violent] felony, the term must be at least five years and must not exceed 25 years.”
In addition to these extremely long prison sentences, NY Penal Law § 80.00 provides that convicted defendants can also be fined up to $5,000 or double the amount of any profits from the crime – whichever number is larger. For example, if a defendant made $3,000 selling guns, he or she would be fined $6,000, since that figure is larger than the flat $5,000 fine.
The consequences of a firearms-related conviction could follow you for the rest of your life. If you or one of your family members was arrested for gun crimes in New York City, don’t go against the prosecution without aggressive legal support on your side. The criminal defense attorneys of Sullivan & Galleshaw have over 30 years of experience handling complex gun felonies throughout New York City, including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Sullivan & Galleshaw right away at (800) 730-0135.