Possessing an Illegal Weapon, or Intending to Use a Weapon Illegally

What Is Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree?

There are many aspects to this charge, but essentially, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is when someone is in possession of a weapon that is banned by New York State law, or has a weapon that they intend to use for an illegal purpose. This charge also includes explosive bullets and armor-piercing ammunition. For more info about all related charges, see New York Gun and Weapons Possession offenses.

When the Charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree Applies

There are two categories of weapons within this charge: “per se” weapons and weapons that depend on possessor intent. “Per se” weapons are explicitly banned by New York State’s laws, and it is always illegal to possess them. Examples of “per se” weapons include gravity knives, switchblades, metal knuckles, and Kung Fu stars. “Per se” is Latin for “of itself.” The meaning here is that these items are weapons by design, so a New York prosecutor need not demonstrate that they can inflict bodily harm.

Weapons based on intent constitute a much larger category within the charge of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Virtually anything can be a weapon under this law, if the possessor uses or intends to use it as a weapon. An ordinary kitchen knife, for instance, is a perfectly legal instrument for one to have in the house, but if one uses it to harm or threaten someone else, then it becomes an illegal weapon.

In addition, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon bars people previously convicted of felonies from possessing firearms, as well as people who have been certified as being unsuitable to possess a weapon.

NY PENAL § 265.01: Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree

New York law states:

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

  1. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  2. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  3. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  4. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  5. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  6. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or
  7. He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, plum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chukka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirked, or “Kung Fu star”; or

Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor.

What Can Happen to Me If I Am Charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree?

Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. It is a serious charge and can have a major impact on your life. A conviction on this charge can result in a jail term of up to a year, a fine up to $1,000, or up to three years of probation. In addition, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon is often charged in conjunction with other crimes, such as assault or robbery, in which the weapon was used.

What Should I Do Next?

If you are arrested in Queens, Nassau, or Suffolk County for criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, you need to take it seriously and consult an experienced Long Island criminal attorney immediately. Your lawyer will know the best strategies to defend you and avoid the worst consequences of this charge, such as challenging the definition of the weapon in question or disputing the prosecution’s account of the relevant events. Remember, you have rights! Don’t try to deal with the charge yourself, and don’t talk to police or prosecutors without a lawyer present. Your lawyer has the knowledge and experience to represent you effectively.

criminal possession of a weapon
Contact Call