The state of New Jersey enforces strict gun and weapon laws and slaps stiff penalties on those found in violation. In some cases, possession of a weapon is a secondary crime that exacerbates the punishment of the primary crime, e.g., possession of a firearm while committing a robbery.
In other cases, merely having a prohibited weapon in your possession could mean indictment. Because convictions can mean prison time and because it will take a good amount of research and preparation to craft a good defense, consult a defense attorney immediately if you face charges.
Types of Gun and Weapons Charges in New Jersey
Many of the laws regarding firearms and other weapons are laid out in New Jersey Statutes (NJSA) Title 2C The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice §2C:39. There are numerous types of weapons charges that can be filed in New Jersey, including:
- possessing illegal weapons;
- possession of a weapon by someone who’s not permitted to have them, such as a convicted felon, someone on probation or parole, or someone who’s been in a mental institution;
- imitation gun, BB gun, airsoft gun and paintball gun offenses;
- having a legal gun without a permit of license;
- juvenile possession of a weapon;
- possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime or at a school; and
- possession of a firearm for unlawful purpose.
While the exact charge or charges you face might include any number of offenses, for the most part, all gun and weapons charges will be based on at least one of four factors:
- having a dangerous, illegal weapon;
- having a weapon for an illegal purpose;
- having a legal weapon without a proper permit; or
- having any type of weapon if you are specifically and explicitly prohibited.
Possession of a Firearm without a Permit to Carry
One of the most common weapons charges in New Jersey is possession of a handgun without a permit to carry. This is a second-degree crime and pursuant to the mandatory sentencing of the Graves Act, which includes a minimum term of 5 years in state prison, without eligibility for parole for three years. However, it’s almost impossible to obtain a permit to carry in New Jersey, so this charge applies to almost anyone carrying a handgun outside of the home.
What kind of penalties do weapons convictions bring?
The penalties you face depend on the particular type of offense:
- possession of an assault weapon or an unlicensed handgun is a second-degree felony crime (this could mean 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines);
- possession of a prohibited weapon means third- or fourth-degree felony crime charges, depending on the type of weapon; and
- possession of a weapon by a felon is a fourth-degree crime.
Multiple or repeat offenses could mean stiffer penalties. To determine exactly what you’re up against, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the laws in New Jersey.
Defending Against Gun and Weapons Charges
There are numerous types of defenses that a defense attorney might use in gun and weapon cases. Your attorney will look at the specifics surrounding your case and determine the best approach for your situation. For instance, here are two possibilities:
- Illegal search – if the police found the weapon in your car or home and didn’t have a search warrant, the evidence may be suppressible and might lead to dismissed charges.
- First-time offender – if it’s your first offense, you might qualify for New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention, which means you can avoid having a criminal record. And once your court supervision is completed, charges will be dismissed.
Video: New Jersey Firearm Possession Penalities
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Build Your Case
There are many ways to approach gun and weapons charges. If charged with a weapons crime in New Jersey, call our legal defense team at Dash Farrow, LLP. We will discuss your case with you, explain what to expect in the legal process and determine the best defenses to support your case.
Call our firm to schedule a legal consultation at your convenience at 856-235-8300 or contact us online.