Articles Posted in and Weapons Possession

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A federal appeals Court has held upheld – for now – a criminal statute which makes it illegal to possess a gravity knife in New York.

As former prosecutors who specialize in criminal defense, our attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone have a great deal of experience assisting people who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being charged with weapons possession, in particular what are commonly referred to as ‘gravity knives.’ Indeed, many of our clients lawfully purchase these knives from such on-line marketplaces as Amazon.com or in popular brick-and-mortar stores like K-Mart. Completely unaware that the possession of such knives is illegal in New York, these clients openly carry the knives on their belts, or clipped to their pockets, only to find themselves in handcuffs and  going to criminal court charged with the Class “A” misdemeanor of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail).

So what exactly is a gravity knife? A “Gravity knife” is defined under New York Penal Law 265.01(5) as “any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application or centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.” In practical terms, any knife which a police officer can open with the flick of a wrist and which locks into place falls under this definition. Not surprisingly, police officers are particularly adept at opening and locking the knives into place.

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An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to people abroad who wish to enter the United States in order to attend academic institutions, training programs, or conservatories. As is the case with any non-citizen, an arrest and conviction for even the most petty offense can trigger serious consequences for an F1 visa holder, including revocation of the visa itself. While the stakes in every criminal case are high, things become even more complicated with F1 visa defendants. To be sure, a criminal attorney needs to be especially diligent when representing any non-citizen facing criminal prosecution for the simple reason that a drastic change in immigration status can potentially accompany any period of incarceration, probation, or even non-jail. As the lawyers at Galluzzo & Arnone have always urged, it is of utmost importance for non-citizens who are arrested to secure experienced counsel as early as possible in the case, and especially before any plea bargan is entrered into. Crafting pleas with an eye towards preserving citizenship/visa status is a delicate and nuanced process, which is why F1 Visa holders require experienced counsel to avoid all of the potential pitfalls.

Our lawyers have a great track record of representing F1 visa holders who are arrested in New York for charges including Petit Larceny, Assault, DWI, Theft of Service, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Marijuana possession, Weapons possession and more. One of the advantages F1 visa holders do have is that they often have minimal criminal justice contacts, if any, as well as solid resumes since they have been granted access to attend one of New York’s many fine academic institutions (many of our clients have attended Columbia or New York University, to name a couple). As former prosecutors, we are able to marshall our clients’ strengths and put together an effective and targeted strategy in each case in order to secure the best possible outcome. Our goal is always to leave our clients’ records intact, as well as ensure that they are able to preserve their visas and continue their studies here with minimal distraction. Our lawyers have also secured countless dismissals in such cases, which provides the best outlook for any non-citizen facing criminal prosecution.

If you or a loved one are studying here in the US on an F1 visa and have been arrested and charged with a crime or violation offense, do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers at Galluzzo & Arnone as soon as possible so as to avoid any negative consequences.

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O-1 visas are granted to individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (O-1A), as well as those with a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, and who have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements (O-1B). O-2 visas are granted to those who accompany O-1’s for the purpose of assisting them in a specific event or performance. USCIC requires an O-2 play an “integral” role in the assistance of an O-1A’a activity, or provide “essential” assistance to the completion of an O-1B’s production. O-3 visas are granted to spouses or children of O-1 and O-2 holders. All three types of visas are usually granted for a period of up to three years, after which they may be extended in one-year increments, without limitation.

As in the case of any non-citizen, the stakes are higher for O-1, O-2 and O-3 visa holders who are arrested because they face the risk of visa revocation on top of any sentence which is authorized for the crime they’ve been arrested for. For this reason, our lawyers are extraordinarily diligent in their representation of visa holders (as well as non-citizens in general), where a great deal of effort must be placed on crafting dispositions with an eye towards preserving our clients' immigration status. In addition to being accomplished trial litigators, our attorneys are also top-notch negotiators who have secured many dismissals and non-criminal dispositions for our clients. Specifically, the attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone have represented countless visa-holders with an impeccable record of success. For all of these reasons, it is imperative for any non-citizen who has been arrested (even given a Desk Appearance Ticket) to contact us as early in the process as possible. Even those charged with seemingly “minor” misdemeanors need to be diligent, for example, those charged with: Theft of Services (PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (PL 220.03), Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00), Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL 221.10), Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00), and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (PL 265.01).

Keep in mind, U.S. visa posts routinely perform criminal background checks on visa applicants, which can lead to devastating consequences for those who don't navigate the system properly, including, but not limited to, initiation of removal proceedings. For a myriad of reasons, it is critical for any O-1, O-2 or O-3 visa holder to contact an experienced attorney who understands the delicate nuances and immigration consequences posed in each of these cases. To be sure, the lawyers at Galluzzo & Arnone have successfully represented O-1 visa holder with great success. If you or a loved are faced with a criminal prosecution, contact our attorneys without delay.

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After over a year of zealous fighting on behalf of his client in Manhattan State Supreme Court, Eric Arnone secured dismissal on charges of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third and Fourth Degree, and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree, in favor of a client who was accused of committing these serious felonies at the age of eighteen. The charges stemmed from an incident in which members of the NYPD executed a search warrant at an apartment he was staying in. If convicted, the young client faced fifteen years in state prison. Instead, he will avoid jail time as a result of the aggessive defense which established his innocence of the now dismissed indicted charges. As a result, the client's record will remain clear, paving the way for him to pursue his dream of serving in one of the branches of the United States military.

If you or a loved one are wrongfully accused of any offense, contact the experienced attorneys at Galuzzo & Arnone LLP – they have a proven track record of success and will fight just as agressively for you.

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Literally millions of people visit New York City as tourists every year, and a large percentage of them fly into and out of one of the two major airports: LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Of those people, many will carry a small knife or other innocuous weapon for personal protection or as a work tool. These items may in fact be legal in their home state. However, New York has some of the strictest weapons possession laws in the country and unfortunately, many people who use these airports learn about them the hard way.

Specifically, New York prohibits the possession of any gravity knife, switchblade, stilletto, certain clubs, darts, slingshots, brass knuckles, and even such exotic things as chuka sticks and throwing stars. Thus, even though many of these things are widely available — even in stores selling them in New York City itself — police will take the opportunity to arrest you and charge you with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree pursuant to Penal Law section 265.01.

More often than not, this situation will occur when a person is attempting to board a flight at the aiport and is subject to security screening by TSA. In those situations, TSA will alert local police and you would find yourself at the local precinct and on the way to Queens County Criminal Court at 125-01 Queens Boulvard, Queens, NY 11415.

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One of the most common criminal charges in the federal system is a violation of 18 USC 922(g). This chapter makes it illegal for certain persons to possess firearms. Notably, this charge in this subsection does not depend upon the type of firearm possessed, though that factor can affect the potential penalties for the offender.

The statute states the following:

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person-
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) who is a fugitive from justice;
(3) who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien-
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(26)));
(6) who has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) who is subject to a court order that-
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(C)
(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

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Federal law makes it a serious crime for certain prohibited persons to possess or sell firearms. Under federal law, one can also expect to receive a very serious sentence for possessing certain types of illegal firearms or using a firearm in furtherance of some other crime, such as robbery or drug trafficking. Below is a brief summary of some of the relevant statutes.

I. POSSESSION OF A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION BY A PROHIBITED PERSON

18 USC § 922(g) & (n). Punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. May receive minimum sentence of 15 years without parole if offender has three or more prior convictions for a felony crime of violence (e.g. burglary, robbery, assault, possession of offensive weapons) and/or drug trafficking felony.

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Imagine the following scenario: You get into the back seat of a car with three of your friends – Alex is driving, Brian is in the front passenger seat, Chris is in the back seat behind the driver, and you're sitting next to Chris behind Brian. The four of you drive off and Alex takes a left turn without signaling. Unfortunately, an unmarked (undercover) police vehicle is parked on the opposite corner and observes the traffic infraction. The police car activates its front grill lights and begins to follow the vehicle, ordering it to pull over. Brian pulls a silver semi-automatic handgun from his waistband, turns around and tosses it at your feet, urging you to kick it under his seat and out of view. You're shocked – you no idea there was a gun in the car…in a panic, you kick the gun forward and out of sight.

The plain clothes police officers approach the car and ask everyone to step out. One of the officers flashes a light into the interior of the car and sees the reflection of a silver object under the front passenger seat. Without asking a question, he reaches under the seat and retrieves a silver handgun, which he determines to be loaded

Question: How do the police officers determine who to arrest? The answer is easy – they arrest everyone. Alex, Brian, Chris, and you are all jointly charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree in violation of Penal Law 265.03(1)(b), which is a class "C" felony, and which carries a maximum of 15 years in jail.

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Have you been arrested for bringing a gun to a New York City Airport?

There is an age-old principle of law which says that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it (ignorantia juris non exusat); if it were, one could claim a defense to every crime on the grounds that he/she was unaware such conduct was illegal. While the general policy implications of the doctrine are obvious, there is one particular area of the law where this doctrine seems to have an extremely harsh impact on individuals and their families, and that is in cases where people with out-of-state permits to possess firearms pass through either one of New York City's two major airports with properly-secured guns, completely unaware that they are committing what is classified as a "violent felony" here. What's worse is that their conduct is perfectly legal in their home states and they have no idea that New York does not recognize their out of state gun permits. The result is that travelers literally hand over their weapons to the authorities thinking that what they are doing is perfectly legal and proper, only to find out that the are being arrested and charged with a serious crime.

Many people enter New York City with guns which are legal to possess in their home states. In fact, many of these people have properly obtained permits to possess their guns back home and are simply unaware that those permits do not bestow the right to possess those guns here in New York City. All too often, unsuspecting travelers will walk into either La Guardia or JFK International airport with their firearms under the mistaken belief that the permit or license they properly obtained in their home state is applicable here. The traveler has no idea that he or she is violating New York law by possessing the firearm until he/she is arrested after properly securing the firearm in the appropriate travel case and declaring it at the airport. In other situations, the passenger secures and checks the gun in their home state where they are duly licensed, in compliance with Federal Law and airline regulations, and no one in the departing state stops them from travelling to New York City! It isn't until that person arrives in New York and finds themselves in handcuffs and shipped off to central booking then criminal court, where it can take 24 hours in custody before they get to see a Judge and hopefully the light of day if they are released. The result is both shocking and terrifying to the person who never saw any of this coming…