Articles Posted in Knives

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New York City owes much of its energy and excellence to the foreign citizens living and working here. Unfortunately, a visa or green card holder's right to remain in the United States can be seriously jeopardized by a Desk Appearance Ticket, even when the charges are comparatively minor misdemeanors. Many visa holders fail to take these arrests sufficiently seriously because the charges seem minor (like marijuana or subway fare theft) or because the arresting officer tells them "it's no big deal." Truthfully, though, career, educational, and family plans can be completely devastated by even a minor case of walking through the subway gate without paying, so it is absolutely critical that a foreign person arrested and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket retain competent counsel immediately.

In many ways, a Desk Appearance Ticket does not feel like such a big deal. The arrested person is usually handcuffed and taken to a police station where they are fingerprinted. They typically wait a few hours in a holding cell until they are given a piece of paper telling them the date and location of their appearance in court. Before Desk Appearance Tickets became routine, criminal defendants could expect to get "sent downtown" and spend the night in jail before seeing a judge. Obviously, Desk Appearance Tickets are preferable for criminal defendants because they spend less time in custody and also have the opportunity to choose counsel for themselves prior to going to court.

Make no mistake, however: the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket is in fact an arrest – it is not "just a ticket". More importantly for visa holders, this event is not going to "fly under the radar" with the immigration agencies. If you were arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket, your fingerprints and the arrest charges have been sent to a New York state agency (the Division of Criminal Justice Services) and to the FBI, which maintains a federal nationwide law enforcement database of all arrest events across the United States (the Interstate Identification Index). Visa and green card holders should understand that the immigration agencies, in processing visa renewal requests, access this database to investigate whether the visa applicant has an arrest record. Indeed, some visa holders actually receive emails from Department of Homeland Security (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) agents after their arrests, because the agency was notified of the arrest via the fingerprint database.

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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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We have encountered countless people that have been surprised to discover that their knives were illegal. Indeed, for a long time, many knives that are technically illegal in New York were readily available for sale in stores like Home Depot. To this day, many can still be easily purchased online and in various hardware stores, camping supply stores, and Army/Navy stores. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of confusion, and even some outright disagreement, about what constitutes an illegal knife in New York.

The most common illegal knife charge in New York is Penal Law § 265.01, or Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor. A person is guilty of this charge when he or she possesses any… gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, or cane sword (among other items). The most typical arrests are for so-called gravity knives and switchblade knives.

GRAVITY KNIVES