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What are the penalties for the criminal use of a firearm?

Violent crimes, such as an assault or battery, can result in serious penalties for a defendant upon conviction. However, individuals often respond with such actions in self-defense, or when defending another person or their home. Moreover, an individual might use a firearm in self-defense. Despite the fact that a person is using a weapon for protection, it might not be readily apparent that it is being used for self-defense; therefore, an individual could be changed with a gun crime if authorities presume that a firearm was used in the commission of a crime.

What are the penalties for the criminal use of a firearm? According to New York Penal Code section 265.09, an individual is guilty of the criminal use of a firearm in the first degree if that person commits any class B felony offense and either possesses a deadly weapon or displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm. A weapon is considered to be a deadly weapon if when loaded and shot it is readily capable of producing death or serious injury.

When an individual is convicted of the above crime, there could be serious penalties. According to the statute mentioned above, the convicted defendant could face an additional five years in prison on top of the penalties imposed for the class B felony. The court will base the overall sentence on the character of the accused and their criminal history. If an additional five years appears to be unduly harsh, then the court has the discretion to reduce the aggregate sentence.

Because a criminal charge that involves the use of a firearm could result in harsh penalties such as several years in prison, it is important that defendants understand their rights to a criminal defense. This could help the accused with their defense method, helping them uncover evidence that could assist them with their self-defense claim or other criminal defense method. This could ultimately help the defendant reduce or dismiss some or all of the charge they are currently facing.

Source: Ypdcrime.com, "S 265.09 Criminal use of a firearm in the first degree," accessed April 25, 2016

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