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NY Penal Law § 265.01-a: Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 265.01-a: Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds

The New York Penal Code has a number of different gun laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons. There are detailed weapons rules that are on the books to protect educational institutions from gun violence and any violence resulting from other types of dangerous weapons.  It is against the law to possess a shotgun, rifle or firearm on the property of a school without the prior authorization of that educational institution under New York Penal Code § 265.01-a.  The term “school” is defined in the statute as any school, college, or university. The statute exempts the forestry lands that are owned by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and school buses.


An Example

A certain college student was believed to be in possession of a large amount of drugs in his college dorm room. On the basis of a credible tip and other evidence, the police obtained a search warrant and searched the student’s room. In the course of the search, the police uncovered a substantial amount of cocaine. The police also discovered a loaded gun. On top of facing a felony criminal possession of a controlled substance charge, the student would also be charged with criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds.


Offenses that are Related

Unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds: New York Penal Code § 265.06

Criminal possession of a firearm: New York Penal Code § 265.01-b


Possible Defenses

If the police discovered the weapon during a search, one avenue to defend a charge of criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds is to challenge the merit of the search that uncovered the weapon as unlawful. For instance, if you are walking on a college campus and the police suddenly stop and search you even though there was no reason to believe that you had committed a crime, the stop and search would be unlawful. If, as a result of the stop and search, the police discovered a firearm, the prosecutor would have a rather difficult time prosecuting you.  The firearm would likely be deemed inadmissible evidence, as it was found as a result of an unlawful search.



Since criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds is deemed a class E felony, if you are convicted,  the maximum possible prison sentence that could possibly receive is 4 years. Your sentence might also include a fine, as well as a 5 year probation term. For the purpose of determining your sentence, the judge will take several factors into consideration.  These factors include the crime committed, the details of the crime, your criminal history and your personal background. If you are a first time offender, then your sentence will be a lot less severe than if you have a criminal history.



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