New York Penal Code § 270.20: Unlawful wearing of a body vest

A "body vest" is defined in the New York criminal code as a bullet-proof piece of soft body armor that provides protection from a shot from a .38 caliber handgun. Under New York law it is against the law to wear a body vest during the commission of a violent crime. Under New York Penal Code § 270.20 you will be charged with unlawful wearing of a body vest if you wear a body best during the commission of a violent felony while possessing a firearm. Examples of violent felony offenses include kidnapping in the first degree, kidnapping in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, aggravated manslaughter in the first degree, rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, arson in the second degree, and robbery in the first degree.

Examples

A masked man walks into a bank, walks up to a teller, produces a gun and demands that she hand over all of the money in her cash drawer. He then flees. The police apprehend him a few blocks away. As they search him they find that he is wearing a body vest. In addition to facing charges related to robbing the bank, the masked man could be prosecuted for unlawful wearing of a body vest.

In a similar example a masked man walks into a bank, walks up to a teller, grabs a customer and holds a knife to the throat of the customer. He then demands that the tellers hand over all of the money in their cash drawers. The masked man then flees. The police apprehend him a few blocks away. As they search him, they find that he is wearing a body vest. While he will face charges related to robbing the bank, the masked man could not be prosecuted for unlawful wearing of a body vest because he did not commit a violent felony while possessing a firearm.

Related Offense
  1. Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 270.25
  2. Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 270.30
  3. Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 270.35
Defenses

You would not be guilty of unlawful wearing of a body vest if you commit a violent crime while possessing a weapon, but the weapon is not a firearm, rifle, or shotgun. In addition, you would not be guilty of unlawful wearing of a body vest if the vest you were wearing was not designed to protect you from 158-grain lead ammunition fired from a .38 calibre handgun at a velocity of 850 feet per second as required by New York Penal Code § 270.20.

Sentence

Because unlawful wearing of a body vest is a class E felony if you are convicted you could be sent to prison for up 4 years and you could be ordered to pay a substantial fine. In addition, the judge could sentence you to serve a probation term of 5 years.

New York Penal Code § 270.20: Unlawful wearing of a body vest
  1. A person is guilty of the unlawful wearing of a body vest when acting either alone or with one or more other persons he commits any violent felony offense defined in § 70.02 while possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun and in the course of and in furtherance of such crime he wears a body vest.

  2. For the purposes of this section a "body vest" means a bullet-resistant soft body armor providing, as a minimum standard, the level of protection known as threat level I which shall mean at least seven layers of bullet-resistant material providing protection from three shots of one hundred fifty-eight grain lead ammunition fired from a .38 calibre handgun at a velocity of eight hundred fifty feet per second.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been arrested and charged with unlawful wearing of a body vest it is important that you have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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