Unfortunately for Felton, New York is probably the worst state to be charged with illegal possession of guns. Prosecutors do not need to establish how Felton obtained the gun or why he possessed the gun, only that he possessed the gun. Felton has thus been charged with a strict liability offense: if he possessed the gun, he's guilty and a judge would sentence him to at least three and a half years behind bars. Felton could seek a plea deal in hopes of a lesser sentence. Former NFL star Plaxico Burress, who faced similar charges in New York, ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but it was far from a legal win for Burress. Burress spent nearly two years behind bars. Plus, as discussed below, pleading guilty would carry legal significance for the NBA as it considers suspending Felton, while the Knicks could potentially try to void the remainder of Felton's deal.
Michael McCann is a Massachusetts attorney and the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He is also the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law.