Those who expect Robert Guerrero to get off easy in New York after an arrest for carrying a firearm and three unloaded magazines may be in for a rude awakening, as New York law is so tough that Guerrero could potentially face four years in prison on what does seem to be from the outside a simple mistake.
Guerrero, 29, presented the weapon in a locked gun case to a Delta airlines representative, so the good news is he certainly wasn't trying to conceal the weapon, but the bad news is that, as SI's Michael McCann says, New York is the worst state in the country for this sort of misunderstanding to happen:
Guerrero may be able to convince prosecutors to let him "plead out" to lesser charges. This is especially possible if he lacks a criminal record (a search by SI.com found none in New York), convincingly explains it was an innocent mistake, and seems genuinely apologetic for an act that harmed no one. Aiding Guerrero, it does not appear he acted suspiciously or attempted to conceal the weapons. Just the contrary, he is portrayed as voluntarily showing the gun box to the Delta Airlines ticket agent.
But as Burress and other defendants have discovered, New York is probably the worst state to make an "innocent" gun mistake. Earlier this year, New York enacted the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, which ratcheted up the penalties for unlawful possession of a firearm. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose jurisdiction includes Queens, is also one of the nation's most prominent critics of guns and has fought for higher restrictions and sanctions. Plus, if prosecutors want to make an example out of a defendant in order to send a message to the public, a high-profile one like Guerrero would fit the bill. Assuming Guerrero admits fault, expect prosecutors to grill him on why he found it advisable or necessary to travel with guns, especially on air plane, and demand that he explains to the public what he was thinking. The charges he faces, in other words, will not go away quietly.
The 29-year-old Guerrero definitely didn't need this as he tries to prepare for a huge career opportunity against Floyd Mayweather on May 4. And this isn't something he can just push to the side for the time being. Last year, Mayweather himself had an actual decided jail sentence waiting for him when he beat Miguel Cotto, but the difference there is that Mayweather was the heavy favorite, while Guerrero is the heavy underdog. The deck was already stacked against "The Ghost," and this is one more huge issue.