By: Passalacqua & Associates

Discharging a Firearm in Public: The Legal Ramifications in New York

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Have You Been Accused of Discharging a Firearm in Public?

If you discharge any firearm in public in New York State, you could be charged with a Class D felony, a Class E felony, or a Class A misdemeanor. If you are facing any of these charges, you must be represented by a Syracuse criminal defense lawyer, and you’ll need to get in touch with that lawyer as quickly as possible.

Gun laws in New York are established to prevent criminals – as well as those who threaten to harm themselves or others – from possessing or buying guns. The right of a law-abiding citizen to bear arms is recognized and honored. Only the most dangerous assault weapons are banned.

What Acts Are Explicitly Prohibited?

New York State’s gun laws regulate the use, possession, and sale of firearms and ammunition across the state, except for New York City, which has established its own firearm licensing regulations. The following acts are specifically prohibited under New York State law:

  1.  firing a weapon at a train, aircraft, or motor vehicle
  2.  firing a weapon in any public location
  3.  pointing a firearm at someone without malice
  4.  firing a weapon toward someone without malice
  5.  injuring someone by firing a weapon without malice
  6.  using a dangerous weapon for hunting in or near a city or within 500 ft of a residence

What Else Should You Know About Discharging a Firearm in New York?

You may not discharge a firearm in this state within five hundred feet of any school, playground, occupied church or factory, farm building, dwelling, or structure unless you own or lease it, are an immediate family member, an employee, or have the consent of the owner.

However, these rules do not apply to discharging a shotgun over water if you are hunting migratory game birds and if no livestock, public structure, dwelling, or person is in your line of fire.

Gun owners should also be aware that throughout the State of New York, a number of local ordinances also address the discharge of a firearm outdoors.

What About Discharging a Firearm While Committing a Crime?

If someone fires a weapon during the commission of a robbery, murder, assault, carjacking, drug crime, gang crime, domestic assault, or a crime of terrorism, the illegal discharge of a firearm adds a potential sentence enhancement or a second felony charge to the prosecution’s case.

Additionally, federal law prohibits the discharge of a firearm during the commission of a federal crime. A conviction for the discharge of a firearm during the commission of a federal crime may be penalized with up to ten years in a federal prison.

What Are the Penalties for a Conviction?

Whether the specific charge you are facing is a felony or a misdemeanor, if you are accused of discharging a firearm in public (or violating any other firearms law in New York), you must be advised and defended – as quickly as possible – by a Syracuse firearms attorney.

A misdemeanor conviction can put someone behind bars for up to a year. A Class E felony conviction may be penalized with up to four years in prison, and a Class D felony conviction with up to seven years in prison. The charge depends on exactly how the law was violated:

  1.  Injuring someone by firing a loaded weapon without malice is a Class A misdemeanor.
  2.  Pointing a weapon at a person and firing it without malice is a Class A misdemeanor.
  3.  Firing a weapon in any public place is a Class A misdemeanor.
  4.  Firing a weapon at an aircraft or train and endangering a life is a Class D felony.
  5.  Firing at an aircraft or train with no intent to endanger a life is a Class E felony.
  6.  Hunting with a dangerous weapon in or near a city is a Class A misdemeanor.

How Will an Attorney Defend You?

What is your attorney’s first step if you are accused of discharging a firearm in public? Your Syracuse criminal defense lawyer will probably seek to have the prosecutor drop the charge, or your lawyer may file a motion with the court to have the case dismissed.

If these options are not available to you, and if the evidence of your guilt is persuasive, your defense attorney may negotiate a plea deal for reduced sentencing or alternative sentencing. Carefully consider any plea deal that is offered and discuss the offer with your attorney.

However, if you are innocent and you did not discharge a firearm in public, in most cases, you should exercise your right to a trial, enter a not guilty plea, and help your lawyer prepare an effective defense strategy.

What Are the Defenses to Discharging a Firearm in Public?

Several defenses may be offered against the charge of discharging a firearm in public. At a trial, a Syracuse firearms attorney will probably offer one of these defenses, cast doubt on the state’s case against you, and explain to a jury why you should be acquitted. Possible defenses include:

  1.  You discharged the weapon as part of your official duties.
  2.  You discharged the weapon accidentally.
  3.  You discharged the weapon while acting in self-defense or another person’s defense.
  4.  Another person discharged the weapon and you have been misidentified.
  5.  No weapon was discharged and the claim against you has been fabricated.

Charged With a Firearms Violation? Call Passalacqua & Associates

If you are accused of discharging a firearm in public in the State of New York, Passalacqua & Associates can make the difference. Our award-winning criminal defense attorneys have more than thirty years of courtroom experience, and we know what it takes to prevail on your behalf.

New York enforces some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, and anyone who is charged with violating a New York gun law cannot expect leniency. You must be defended by a lawyer who has substantial experience and a record of success – a lawyer at Passalacqua & Associates.

If you are currently charged with discharging a firearm in public in or near the Syracuse or Utica area – or anywhere in the state of New York – or if you find yourself facing this charge in the future, call Passalacqua & Associates as quickly as possible at 315-277-3548 to schedule an in-depth case evaluation with no cost or obligation.