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Charges against ex-Marine reduced after weapons allegation

In a prior blog post, we discussed a man who faced weapons charges after he unknowingly violated New York's strict gun laws. The ex-Marine is a jewelry dealer with a license for the .45-caliber pistol that he usually carries when traveling with valuables. The 28-year-old was in New York on business when he decided to stop at a sightseeing attraction at the Empire State Building. Before entering, he tried to check the weapon in with security guards at the entrance and was arrested.

Although the man said he had misinterpreted New York's strict gun laws, which he had researched ahead of time, he was charged with a felony. This original charge, which could have resulted in 3.5 to 15 years in prison, was changed to a misdemeanor weapon-possession charge. The man recently took a plea deal that will spare him jail time. "I'm happy with the outcome," he said after agreeing to complete 10 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.

The case was controversial because many people felt that he had tried to act responsibly when he checked his gun in before entering the tourist attraction. Among others, gun-rights advocates, veterans and a former governor voiced their opinions in support of the accused gun owner.

The 28-year-old is an Indiana resident, and the incident was not the first time a person from out of state had been taken by surprise after inadvertently breaking New York's weapons laws. In fact, a Tennessee woman recently pled guilty to the same charge after attempting to turn her pistol in to security officials at the Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum in December.

Both cases serve as a reminder of the importance of understanding how out-of-state weapons laws differ from those in New York. And the ex-Marine's case also reminds us that a strategic and meaningful criminal defense can often result in lesser charges, and in some cases charges can be dropped altogether.

Source: The Washington Post, "Indiana man who tried to check gun at NYC landmark takes no-jail plea deal," Jennifer Peltz, March 20, 2012

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