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NY Penal Law § 265.05: Unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 265.05: Unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen

Among the eleven offenses in the New York Penal Code that make it illegal to be in possession of firearms or other weapons, three of them are written specifically to keep weapons away from minor children. it is illegal under New York Penal Code § 265.05 for a child  under the age of 16 to be in possession of the following:


  • An air-gun
  • A spring-gun
  • Any gun that might use loaded or blank cartridges
  • The loaded or blank cartridges themselves
  • Any ammunition
  • Any knife that is dangerous



A police officer sees a 15 year old boy in possession of a machete. The boy is placed under arrest and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, as well as unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen. That said, in order for the prosecutor to prevail, the prosecutor is obligated to prove that the knife described as a machete that the boy in possession of was indeed a dangerous weapon and not merely a utilitarian utensil.


Offenses that are Related

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

Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds: New York Penal Code § 265.01-a


Possible Defenses

In order to be successfully convicted of unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the object that you had is indeed a weapon according to the definition in the statute. For instance, if you were found to be in possession of a knife, the knife must have obviously been a dangerous knife. While there are some knives, such as stilettos or daggers, that are, without question, dangerous knives, other knives, such as kitchen knives and butter knives are utilitarian utensils. If the object cannot be classified as a dangerous knife, then the prosecutor would have no option but to drop the charge against you.


An alternative defense, in cases involving a rifle or shotgun, is that you are in possession of the rifle or shotgun pursuant to a lawful hunting license or permit. If this is the case, then you may not be prosecuted for unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen.



The consequences of being found guilty of having committed the offense of unlawful possession of weapons by persons under sixteen is that you would be formally adjudicated a juvenile delinquent.



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