Have you been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit? Don’t wait. Call now.
On February 27, 2023, the top headline on the front page of The New York Times declared “New York’s Gun Laws Sow Confusion as Nation Rethinks Regulation.”
“A Supreme Court decision overturning century-old New York gun regulations has produced scores of new lawsuits as jurists and citizens sort out what’s legal,” the drop-head stated.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, on June 22, 2022, broadened the right of citizens to carry guns. In response, New York quickly made certain areas off-limits to firearms possession, prompting a raft of court challenges to the new state law.
On March 20, an appeals panel will consider several of the cases simultaneously, according to The New York Times, which describes the ongoing legal battles over state firearms laws as “a dizzying sequence in which judges have tossed out rules, only for higher courts to reinstate them again and again.”
All this has left many New Yorkers confused about when, where, and under what circumstances they can legally possess a firearm.
If you own a firearm, you should know the penalties and punishments associated with gun-related charges in New York.
And, if you are charged with a gun-related offense, you should consult the best criminal-defense lawyer in your area.
How can you be charged with carrying a concealed weapon?
In New York, you need a permit called a CCW—carrying a concealed weapon—to carry a loaded handgun in public places where carrying a gun is allowed.
Carrying a firearm in a sensitive location, a Class E felony, is the central question at issue in the changes to state law made in response to the June 2022 Supreme Court ruling. State law defines a sensitive location as
- any place owned or under the control of federal, state, or local government, for the purpose of government administration, including courts;
- any location providing health, behavioral health, or chemical dependence care or services;
- any place of worship or religious observation;
- libraries, public playgrounds, public parks, and zoos;
- the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, funded, or approved by the office of children and family services that provides services to children, youth, or young adults, any legally exempt childcare provider; a childcare program for which a permit to operate such program has been issued by the department of health and mental hygiene pursuant to the health code of the city of New York;
- nursery schools, preschools, and summer camps;
- the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office for people with developmental disabilities;
- the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by office of addiction services and supports;
- the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office of mental health;
- the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office of temporary and disability assistance;
- homeless shelters, runaway homeless youth shelters, family shelters, shelters for adults, domestic violence shelters, and emergency shelters, and residential programs for victims of domestic violence;
- residential settings licensed, certified, regulated, funded, or operated by the department of health;
- in or upon any building or grounds, owned or leased, of any educational institutions, colleges and universities, licensed private career schools, school districts, public schools, private schools licensed under article one hundred one of the education law, charter schools, non-public schools, board of cooperative educational services, special act schools, preschool special education programs, private residential or non-residential schools for the education of students with disabilities, and any state-operated or state-supported schools;
- any place, conveyance, or vehicle used for public transportation or public transit, subway cars, train cars, buses, ferries, railroad, omnibus, marine or aviation transportation; or any facility used for or in connection with service in the transportation of passengers, airports, train stations, subway and rail stations, and bus terminals;
- any establishment issued a license for on-premises consumption pursuant to article four, four-A, five, or six of the alcoholic beverage control law where alcohol is consumed, and any establishment licensed under article four of the cannabis law for on-premises consumption;
- any place used for the performance, art entertainment, gaming, or sporting events such as theaters, stadiums, racetracks, museums, amusement parks, performance venues, concerts, exhibits, conference centers, banquet halls, and gaming facilities and video lottery terminal facilities as licensed by the gaming commission;
- any location being used as a polling place;
- any public sidewalk or other public area restricted from general public access for a limited time or special event that has been issued a permit for such time or event by a governmental entity, or subject to specific, heightened law enforcement protection, or has otherwise had such access restricted by a governmental entity, provided such location is identified as such by clear and conspicuous signage;
- any gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional rights to protest or assemble; or
- the area commonly known as Times Square, as such area is determined and identified by the city of New York; provided such area shall be clearly and conspicuously identified with signage.
Criminal possession of a weapon in specific locations
In addition to these illegal weapon possession charges, you could also face charges that deal with possessing firearms in specific locations. Most of these charges deal with populated locations at risk of active shooters. Such sections include criminal possession of a weapon on or near a school, criminal possession of a weapon in a restricted location, and criminal possession of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun in a sensitive location.
If you are caught by law enforcement carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, you will face charges. CCW charges usually involve handguns but may also apply to other firearms and weapons like switchblades, blackjacks, and brass knuckles.
Even if you have a permit to carry a handgun in another state, that permit is not valid in New York. This is often the situation with CCW charges: a visitor from another state forgets or does not know about the intricacies of NY CCW law and is found carrying a concealed weapon without a permit by law enforcement.
Since the recent changes took effect, you can now be charged for carrying a concealed weapon to a sensitive location (e.g., bars, libraries, schools, government buildings, and hospitals) even if you have a CCW permit in New York. It is crucial that you remind yourself of the list of sensitive and restricted locations to prevent incrimination.
You could also be charged for carrying a concealed weapon if you forget to renew your permit every three years. Since New York changed CCW permit renewal requirements from five years to three years, it is important to check when your last permit renewal was.
The new legislation also makes it more difficult to obtain a CCW permit—requiring more extensive background checks, live-fire safety training, and prohibiting concealed weapons at sensitive locations.
Do you need to take a firearms-safety training course if you have a CCW permit?
If you already have a CCW permit, you may still need to take a firearms safety training course depending on your county. If you are renewing your CCW license in New York City, Westchester, Nassau, or Suffolk, you must complete the training to renew your permit.
Penalties for a concealed-carry conviction
New York’s gun laws are among the strictest in the nation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are caught carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, penalized with up to one year in jail, three years of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. If you have prior convictions, you could face a longer mandatory prison sentence under federal law.
If the situation extends beyond simply carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, you could also be charged with criminal possession of a firearm in the second, third, or fourth degree. In those situations, you could be sentenced to as many as 15 years in prison.
What are some defenses for a concealed-carry charge?
Defenses in weapons cases often revolve around search and seizure issues. Did the police have the right to stop you and search your vehicle or person? If not, the gun evidence may be suppressed.
Other defenses to concealed carry charges include failure to prove that the person really possessed the weapon and the failure of the item sized to meet the state of New York’s definition of a weapon. If you are from another state and did not know about the CCW law, you may be able to use the context as a defense.
Before you plead guilty to any weapons offense, you should discuss your case with an experienced lawyer.
If you’ve been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, call now.
For more information about carrying-a-concealed-weapon charges in New York, call 716-633-4300 for a free consultation with Norman Mattar.
We leverage our deep knowledge and extensive experience in defending gun-related charges and consider all aspects of your case to identify the most-favorable route forward.
Norman Mattar is a criminal-defense lawyer with more than 25 years of experience in the courts of Western New York. Aggressive and determined, he will work tirelessly to defend your rights and freedoms.
For more than 25 years, lawyer Norman Mattar has defended people accused of gun charges, such as carrying a concealed weapon, in Buffalo and Western New York.
We often represent people from out of state who run afoul of New York’s gun laws, which have long been among the more stringent in the nation. Many of the people we represent have never been in trouble with the law before.