As criminal defense attorneys that routinely handle firearms and weapons charges we are often asked about the recently highly publicized Trevon Martin case and how the charges and the verdict relate to NY weapon laws. While NY does have significantly more strict laws regarding firearms than Florida does, there are some key points consider on how NY State law allows you to defend yourself using a firearm against serious threats.
Florida’s now infamous “Stand Your Ground” law went into effect in 2005 and immediately caused many headlines and nationwide controversy as media outlets weighed in. While some residents feared that it would turn their towns into a “wild west” free for all, proponents of the law and gun advocate groups hailed the law as an expansion of one’s right to use deadly force, anytime and anywhere they felt their lives were being threatened.
Prior to this law being enacted, deadly force was only allowed to be used to defend oneself against imminent deadly force or great bodily harm, or in the event of a forcible felony when in one’s home (known as the “Castle Law”). If not in their home at the time of the event, the person had the “duty to retreat”, in other words, promptly remove oneself from the threatening situation without defending themselves by with the same deadly force.
The “Stand Your Ground” law pivots on two presumptions when defending a criminal defendant making a self defense case.
By passing the “Stand Your Ground” law, Florida legislature made the bold statement that no individual of the state of Florida should be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack.
New York has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine but it is considered much weaker than similar castle doctrine laws enacted in other states. In NYS, unlike Florida, a citizen has the duty to retreat from attackers if they feel they can safely to so. Within their home, the castle doctrine authorizes deadly force as long as the resident is not the instigator of the confrontation.
With respect to victims inside their home, New York’s Castle Doctrine states:
A person in possession or control of, or licensed or privileged to be in, a dwelling or an occupied building, who reasonably believes that another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling or building, may use deadly physical force upon such other person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of such burglary.
Being accused of a firearm or weapons defense charge is a serious charge and NYS has very serious ramifacations, including manslaughter & homicide charges, for those found guilty of those charges. Jackson & Bergman have years of experience on both sides of the law and know how to defend against the most serious of weapons charges. If you’ve been accused of a crime call them at 607-296-4190 for a complimentary case analysis today.