A man was pulled-over by a police officer because the car he was driving was reported stolen. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the car did not turn out to be stolen, after all as the use of the car by the man was merely unauthorized. When the police officer arrested the man for theft of the car, the man was found in possession of a gun. He had with him in his car a loaded .25 caliber automatic pistol.
The man had the gun licensed in North Carolina when he purchased the gun there in 1973. He later moved to New York and brought the gun with him. He knew of the laws of New York regarding the possession of an unlicensed firearm but for seven years, he possessed an unlicensed firearm.
The man was charged with possession of a weapon in the third degree. But during his arraignment, the man entered a plea of guilt to the misdemeanor possession in the fourth degree.
The court allowed the man to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court judge took into consideration the facts regarding the man’s personal circumstances. The man was 46 years old; he had been married for 25 years and he has two children aged 14 and 21. He has never been convicted of a crime. He knew the licensing requirement to own and possess a gun in the state of New York but he never bothered to have his firearm licensed in New York. He claimed that he kept the gun in his possession because his business was located at a neighborhood with a high crime rate. He kept the gun for his own protection. Instead of punishing the man for one year imprisonment, the judge sentenced the man to be imprisoned for 30 days and to be placed on probation for three years. He also ordered that the imprisonment be a condition to his probation.
The man appealed the sentence of 30 days’ imprisonment. A Long Island Criminal Lawyer said he claims that since this is his first time to be convicted and since this is only a misdemeanor, he should get a lighter sentence. He claims that the 30 days’ imprisonment is a cruel and unusually punishment.
The only question before the Court is whether or not the imprisonment of 30 days for a misdemeanor is a cruel and unusual punishment that is prohibited by the constitution.
The Court first noted that the new gun law passed by the legislature is the toughest gun law in the country. It was enacted to stem the proliferation of unlicensed firearms. Another purpose of the law is to check the rise of gun-related crimes.
The new gun law has increased the penalty for possession and sale of illegal weapons. The new gun law mandates a one year minimum sentence upon conviction for possession of a loaded gun outside the home or pace of business.
The Court also noted that the same statute gave the trial court judge the discretion to impose a lesser penalty depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime and on the history and character of the defendant.
The Court found that the trial court judge committed no grave abuse of discretion in sentencing the man. Even if it can be said that the defendant does not seem to be a danger to society, nor can it be said that the man is in need of rehabilitation. The trial court judge was of the opinion that sentencing the man to imprisonment of 3 months even if this is only his first conviction, sends a message that deterrence of possession of guns is an overriding principle.
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