25 Sep 23

New York Assault with a Gun

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Last Updated on: 28th September 2023, 09:25 pm


New York Assault with a Gun

Gun violence has been a hot topic in New York lately. With recent changes to gun laws, there’s been a lot of discussion about what constitutes assault with a gun in New York, what the penalties are, and how laws are changing.

First off, what exactly is assault with a gun in New York? Well, it can mean a few different things. Generally, assault with a gun refers to using or threatening to use a gun against someone in a way that makes them fear for their safety. This could be pointing a gun at someone, pistol whipping them, or firing a gun near them in a threatening way. The key is using the gun to intentionally place someone in fear of injury, even if you don’t actually shoot them.

New York has a few different assault charges that can apply when a gun is involved:

  • Menacing with a weapon – When you intentionally place someone in fear of injury by displaying a gun.
  • Reckless endangerment – Acting in a way that creates a substantial risk of serious injury or death, like firing a gun into a crowd.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon – Causing injury to someone using a deadly weapon like a gun.

The penalties for these charges vary, but can include both jail time and fines. For example, menacing with a weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with jail time up to 1 year or up to 7 years depending on exactly what happened.

Recent Changes to New York Gun Laws

There have been some notable recent changes to New York’s gun laws that affect assault charges.

One of the biggest was the SAFE Act, passed in 2013. This law expanded the definition of assault weapons and required registration of existing assault weapons with the state. The goal was to better track these guns used in many mass shootings. However, enforcement issues mean over 40% of assault weapons remain unregistered.

The SAFE Act also increased penalties for assault with guns. For example, assaulting a police officer or first responder with a gun now carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.

In 2022, New York passed new laws raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21 and requiring a license to carry concealed handguns in public. This was in reaction to mass shootings like the one in Buffalo. However, some claims about mandatory minimums for assault charges were debunked as false.

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Most recently, NY announced plans to require all new handguns be microstamped with serial numbers to help solve crimes. This controversial law faces legal challenges though.

Defenses to Assault with a Gun

If you’ve been charged with assaulting someone with a gun in New York, there may be defenses that could help your case. Some potential defenses include:

  • Self-defense – Using reasonable force to protect yourself or others from harm.
  • Defense of property – Using reasonable force to prevent trespassing or theft of property.
  • Lack of intent – The actions were an accident, not meant to place someone in fear of harm.
  • Mistaken identity – You are misidentified and were not actually the one who committed the assault.
  • False accusations – The alleged victim is lying or mistaken about what occurred.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the evidence in your case and advise you on the viability of any defenses. It’s important to remember that the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Impact on Gun Rights

Being convicted of assault with a gun can impact your right to legally own firearms in New York. If convicted of a felony assault charge, you will be banned for life from possessing any guns. Even a misdemeanor conviction can result in losing your license for up to 5 years.

However, New York does allow for relief from firearms disability after 5 years. You can petition to have your gun rights restored by demonstrating good moral character and that you don’t pose a threat to others. An attorney can guide you through this relief process if desired.

Going to Trial vs. Plea Bargain

Many assault with a gun charges in New York end in plea bargains rather than going to trial. Prosecutors often offer plea deals to avoid the time and expense of a trial. Typical plea bargains result in pleading to a lower misdemeanor charge in exchange for probation or reduced jail time.

However, you may want to reject a plea bargain if you believe you have a strong defense or were overcharged. By taking it to trial, you preserve the right to have your case heard by a jury and potentially be acquitted. Your lawyer can help weigh the risks and benefits of going to trial versus taking a plea deal.

Sentencing and Punishment

Sentencing for assault with a gun in New York varies based on the exact charges and your criminal history. As noted above, some assault charges like against police carry mandatory minimum sentences. For other convictions, sentences can range from probation up to 25 years in prison.

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The judge determines sentencing after reviewing factors like:

  • Severity of the assault
  • Injuries caused
  • Use of the gun
  • Intent
  • Criminal background

Those convicted will also face probation or parole supervision after release. And a felony conviction results in losing civil rights like voting and serving on a jury.

Seeking Legal Help

Dealing with assault charges in New York can be overwhelming. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable in building your defense, negotiating with prosecutors, and helping you understand the complex gun laws.

Don’t go it alone against the power of the state. Seek out an attorney you trust to be a strong advocate on your behalf. They can review the evidence and possible defenses to give you an honest assessment of your case. With skilled legal help, you may be able to get charges reduced or even dismissed.