Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mitigating factors could help Bucs' Bowers

TAMPA — Bucs defensive end Da'Quan Bowers faces two felony counts of weapons possession in New York. But mitigating factors could result in a favorable resolution, New York-based attorneys said Tuesday.

Bowers, who was arrested Monday morning at LaGuardia Airport and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, told people close to him he unwittingly traveled to the city with the gun in a checked bag on Friday.

Unaware of New York's stringent gun laws, Bowers alerted airline personnel to the weapon before departing and was charged because he lacked a New York permit.

But if the weapon is legally owned in a different state and Bowers shows a lack of criminal intent, he could get minimal discipline, attorneys said.

Also working in his favor: the jurisdiction. The Queens District Attorney's office takes a more lenient approach to possession cases such as Bowers', according to attorneys.

"The state of New York doesn't care what the federal law is or what other states' laws are," said attorney Jay Goldberg, who does not represent Bowers. "But the Queens DA has a very pragmatic approach if the gun is registered somewhere else."

Bowers' .40-caliber handgun is believed to be legally owned in South Carolina, his home state.

"It might not be that bad," Goldberg said. "I've been very successful in Queens; in some cases even getting (charges) dismissed."

Bowers' attorney, Dennis Coppin of Bayside, N.Y., also expressed confidence, saying via text message: "After a full and fair investigation of the facts and circumstances regarding this regi­stered firearm, Mr. Bowers will be fully exonerated."

A key to Bowers' defense will be his ability to demonstrate how and why he had the gun in New York and if he took steps to comply with rules governing how it must be transported.

Bowers, who was released on $10,000 bond, alerting airline personnel to the weapon will be viewed favorably, attorneys said. What's less clear is if he followed proper protocol.

The Transportation Security Administration permits firearms in checked baggage if they are "unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in." In any case, "guns in the belly of an airplane do not pose a threat to the passengers in the cabin," according to the TSA.

Still, many factors in the case appear to work in Bowers' favor.

With both of New York's major airports in Queens (LaGuardia and JFK International), its district attorney frequently handles cases involving out-of-state visitors charged with gun crimes.

"Is ignorance a defense?" said New York attorney Elizabeth Crotty, who also is unaffiliated with Bowers' case. "Not really. But it can be a factor (in the adjudication of the case).

"If you can kind of go through the checklist of things, you can get some leniency. (Prosecutors) always charge them with (criminal possession). But if it's properly licensed, packaged and all those things, they're reasonable."

The circumstances surrounding them make Bowers' case different than that of Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress. He served 20 months in prison for a 2008 incident in which he shot himself in the leg with an illegally possessed gun in a nightclub.

"(Burress) was drinking and was carrying the gun in a reckless manner (in his waist)," said Mark Bederow, a Manhattan attorney who has represented defendants in airport firearms cases. "(Bowers' case) happens all the time. What happened to Burress does not happen all the time."

Given what's known about the case, Bederow said Bowers would be justified in feeling optimistic.

"If everything we've heard is true," he said, "despite New York having the most draconian gun laws in the country, I would be shocked if this case resulted in any incarceration. And it might result in no criminal action whatsoever."

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

Mitigating factors could help Bucs' Bowers 02/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494