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Plaxico Burress Shoots Himself in the Leg; Will do Some Hard Time

Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress

If you haven’t heard New York Giants star WR Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg over the weekend while at a nightclub in New York and is being charged with two counts of  Criminal Possession of a weapon in the 2nd degree, a class C Felony.  Burress faces between 3.5 and 15 years in prison and is expected to plead not Guilty on March 31, when he is set to appear in court.’s Michael McCann did a great job in breaking down all of the common questions one may have about the Burress situation from a legal prospective which can be viewed at:

In order to be found guilty, Burress must have used his own gun in the shooting or must have had the gun with him in New York.  It looks like Burress’s only defense will be that the gun he shot himself with does not belong to him and was not present in New York.  If it can be proven through witness’s or camera footage that the gun did belong to Burress, then he will be found guilty because New York’s law states that the mere possession of a an unlicensed weapon is enough to be found guilty of second degree criminal possession of a weapon.  It does not matter that Burress did not intend to use the gun.  However I would look for a plea bargain to be entered into before this case goes to trial. Burress is a first time offender and may be eligible for a reduced sentence.

The NFL and the New York Giants will also have to decide what to do with Burress who may have violated the NFL Handgun Policy which can be found here: Burress will be found to have violated the policy only if he is convicted on the criminal possession charges since he did not have a gun at any NFL sponsored function.  NFL player contracts may be terminated at will, and usually guaranteed money must be paid.  However if it is found that Burress committed conduct detrimental to the NFL or the New York Giants he could lose money that was guaranteed to him in the contract which runs through 2012.  This language is present in every NFL standard player agreement and it would be up to the Giants whether they want to pay Burress anything or not.

It is sad to see another athlete make such a bad lapse in judgement.  Often times it is up to the people around a player such as agents and advisers to warn an athlete of potential risks.  There is no doubt that athletes are targets when it comes to crime and may need to protect themselves and their families, however there are smart ways to do it.  Burress, has a 35M contract and can can afford to hire private security whenever he goes out in public so that he is not the person holding a gun and getting in trouble with the law.  Imagine if he accidentally shot somebody?  He would be facing murder charges instead of criminal possession of a weapon charges.  He has no excuse and according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Burress will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  May this be a lesson to all athletes and advisers out there that athletes need to be smart, abide by the law, and surround themselves with a network of professionals who can dispense invaluable advice.

UPDATE 8/20/09 – Burress pleads guilty and will serve 2 years:


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