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Court Decides Gun Crime Charge


The police searched the garage belonging to a man against whom a search warrant had already issued. The police found an automatic pistol which was loaded with eight cartridges. The automatic pistol was wrapped in a paper bag which was hidden in the folds of a sheet of tarpaulin which was owned by the man and which was placed in the garage by the same man.
In the same garage the police found a carbine among the tools and utensils owned by the man. It was not hidden as the loaded automatic pistol was. While searching the attic of the man’s house, the police also found a box containing cartridges similar to those loaded into the automatic pistol. Along with this box of cartridges, they also found an empty box of the same brand and make of cartridges.

All the relatives of the man, when questioned denied ownership of the gun and denied knowledge that it was hidden in the garage. Even the man himself denied the gun crime and knowledge of the gun hidden in his garage among his personal items belonging to him.
The man was charged with felony possession of a pistol. He pleaded not guilty and trial ensued. At the trial, the People presented testimony of one of the police officers who conducted the search that the man at first denied that he had knowledge of the gun and also denied ownership of the same gun. At the police precinct, he contradicted his earlier statement by saying that he didn’t remember hiding the gun in the garage but if the police said that they found the gun in his garage then he must have put it there.

The man was convicted by a jury at the trial court and his conviction was affirmed by the appellate division.

The man appealed his conviction on the ground that criminal possession of a loaded pistol was not proved by the People. He cites the evidence presented at trial that his garage was open, it had no lock. Several people in his house had free access to the garage and anybody could have come in and hidden that loaded pistol amongst his belongings.

He also decries as highly prejudicial, the presentation of the District Attorney of evidence that he was a parole violator. He claims that the District Attorney presented details of his former arrest and details of the events that precipitated his earlier arrest. He also questions the admission into evidence of the tools in his garage as he claims that these are not relevant evidence. He claims that his right to a fair trial because incompetent, immaterial and prejudicial evidence was admitted against him. He asks for a new trial.

The only question before the Supreme Court is whether or not the People established felony possession of a weapon beyond reasonable doubt.

The majority ruled that the criminal possession of a weapon was established beyond reasonable doubt because the loaded pistol was found in a part of a house owned by the man. The gun was found not only in his house but in a garage that was under his control. It didn’t matter that the garage had no lock, it was under his control and the gun was found amongst things belonging to and used by him in the regular course of his life. The man also admitted that if the gun was found in his garage then he must have put it there.

While the majority concedes that the trial court may have made errors in admitting certain pieces of evidence, admission of those pieces of evidence did not affect the result. The criminal possession of a pistol was duly established.

A New York Gun Crime Lawyer will advice you that you need not own the gun for you to be found guilty of possession. They will tell you that it is enough to prove the crime of criminal possession of a gun if the gun is found on your person or among your things over which you exercise control. As conviction for this crime carries with it consequences other than just imprisonment, it will serve you well to be able represented at trial. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, experienced lawyers are willing to assist in your defense, whether you have been charged with drug possession, a gun crime, or a theft crime.

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