Police in Niagara Falls recently arrested a former state senate candidate on gun charges. They stopped the 26-year-old woman when she allegedly made a turn without using her turn signals. The stop led to felony charges under New York weapons laws when police found a loaded rifle, a handgun and a combat knife in the car.
Police also arrested the woman’s 18-year-old companion who was riding in the car. At the time of the traffic stop, while the first officers were doing a computer check, another another Roving Anti-Crime unit of the Niagara Police arrived on the scene. When they asked them to get out of the car, they allegedly spotted that the driver had pushed her coat over the rifle. They then searched further, and discovered the hand gun.
The woman was a controversial candidate for the 62nd District State Senate seat in 2014. She dropped out of the race after admitting to an extramarital affair, and then re-entered it a week later, stating that she was amazed by the overwhelming show of support on her behalf. She lost in the Republican primary with only about 25 percent of the vote. It is unclear what her relationship was to the individual riding as her passenger.
Defense counsel will discharge his or her duty to aggressively represent the client by first looking at the circumstances of the stop. One potential defense under New York law is that the second unit that arrived asked the occupant to get out of the car without first having any articulable reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. As it is described in the press reports, officers did not spot a gun until after asking the driver to get out of the car. That may hold up as a viable defense to the felony charges because the traffic stop did not justify a further search of their persons or the car without reasonable suspicion.
Source: buffalonews.com, “Former State Senate candidate arrested on weapons charges in Niagara Falls”, Lou Michel, Feb. 12, 2016