Essex County NJ Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose Defense Attorney

Charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose are seldom issued in isolation, often accompanied by other criminal charges, such as robbery, aggravated assault, and domestic violence offenses. The nature of the charge informs this phenomenon, as it involves the possession of a weapon with the intention to use it in an unlawful manner, whether that involves threatening or causing injury to another person, committing a crime such as carjacking, or perpetrating another offense. The degree of these charges is dictated by the specific weapon involved in the alleged crime and can range from second degree to fourth degree charges. Regardless of the degree of these charges, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is always a felony-level offense, which may entail a significant term of incarceration for those convicted.

Attorney Roy W. Breslow prosecuted countless weapons cases while working on behalf of the State as an Assistant Prosecutor and Deputy Attorney General for the Division of Criminal Justice. He now utilizes his extensive exposure to the inner-workings of the system to effectively defend his clients as a highly regarded criminal defense attorney. Contact his Essex County offices any time for a free and immediate consultation.

Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4

Charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which reads:

  • Any person who has in his possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
  • Any person who possesses, receives or transfers a community gun is guilty of a crime of the second degree and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater and during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.
    • As used in this paragraph, “community gun” means a firearm that is transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
  • Any person who has in his possession or carries any explosive substance with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
  • Any person who has in his possession any destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
  • Any person who has in his possession any weapon, except a firearm, with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
  • Any person who has in his possession an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

Charges for Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in Newark or Essex County NJ?

As evidenced above, the most serious charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose involve firearms, explosives, and other destructive devices. Offenses involving weapons other than firearms are classified as third degree crimes, and those involving imitation firearms are considered fourth degree crimes. The potential penalties associated with each of these include the following:

  • Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose as a Fourth Degree Crime: punishable by a period of up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison
  • Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose as a Third Degree Crime: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison; however, there is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders
  • Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose as a Second Degree Crime: punishable by a period of between 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, with a presumption of incarceration even for first-time offenders.

In addition to the aforementioned consequences, violations involving firearms are subject to the sentencing guidelines mandated by New Jersey’s Graves Act, which requires the imposition of a minimum term of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.

A conviction for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose can lead to severe consequences. It is important to note that a sentence imposed for this charge may be imposed in addition to any sentences associated with other charges. The Court will determine whether these sentences are to be served consecutively (one after the other) or concurrently (at the same time). Clearly, a concurrent sentence is far more desirable than a consecutive one.

Contact the Law offices of Roy W. Breslow for a free consultation about your case.