Illegal Possession of Firearms
All too often, otherwise law-abiding citizens become engulfed in New Jersey’s criminal justice system while simply traveling through our State with a firearm that was lawfully purchased and permitted in their home State. These instances occur with astounding frequency, as New Jersey refuses to acknowledge state-to-state reciprocity when it comes to gun permits, creating a revolving door of arrests and charges for those from other states who are unaware of the state’s stringent weapons laws. In fact, gun laws in New Jersey are among the most strict in the nation, with a number of offenses that entail mandatory terms of incarceration and periods of parole ineligibility for those convicted.
The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have witnessed and participated in thousands of weapons cases as Prosecutors and as criminal defense lawyers. They have developed an impressive level of knowledge and skill in the realm of weapons charges and have successfully resolved these cases for countless clients in courtrooms across the State. To discuss your case, contact their Essex County office for a free consultation.
Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5
Unlawful Possession of a Weapon offenses are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which distinguishes among specific weapons and the degree of the charges associated with each:
Machine Guns: Any person who knowingly has in his possession a machine gun or instrument or device adaptable for use as a machine gun without being licensed is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
Handguns: Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including an antique handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry same is guilty of a crime of the second degree. However, if the gun is in the nature of an air gun or pellet pistol then the crime is of the third degree.
Rifles or Shotguns: Any person who knowingly has in her possession any rifle or shotgun without first having obtained a firearms purchaser identification card is guilty of a crime of the third degree. Unless otherwise permitted by law, any person who knowingly has in his possession any loaded rifle or shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
Other Prohibited Weapons: Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
Weapons in New Jersey: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What constitutes a “weapon” under New Jersey law?
- A weapon can refer to any item that is capable of inflicting bodily injury or causing physical damage. Any of the following may be considered a weapon in violation of the law: a defaced firearm, stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sand club, slingshot, cestus, ballistic knife, hollow-point bullets, leather band studded with metal filings, or razor blades embedded in wood.
Can I carry a weapon on school property if I have a permit?
- No. It is illegal to carry a firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution, even if you have a permit to carry a firearm or a valid firearm purchaser identification card. A violation of this kind is considered a third-degree crime.
What permits are required to purchase and/or carry shotguns, rifles, and handguns?
- You are required to obtain a purchaser identification card prior to purchasing a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. For rifles and shotguns, this permit is sufficient to acquire and possess the firearm. On the other hand, for a handgun, you must obtain a separate permit to carry the handgun.
Charges for Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in NJ?
The above offenses are considered extremely serious. The penalties for those found guilty of these violations may include:
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon as a Fourth Degree Crime: punishable by a period of up to 18 months in State Prison
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon as a Third Degree Crime: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in State Prison
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon as a Second Degree Crime: punishable by a period of between 5 to 10 years in State Prison
In addition, illegal possession of a weapon offenses involving handguns, machine guns, rifles, and shotguns are subject to the sentencing guidelines mandated by New Jersey’s Graves Act, which requires a mandatory term of imprisonment with a minimum period of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.
Due to the seriousness with which the State prosecutes these offenses, it is crucial to enlist a defense attorney who has experience negotiating for downgraded charges or admission into a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention. Although prosecutors are seldom willing to submit to these alternatives readily, a deft negotiator can secure a favorable outcome. Contact Breslow Law Offices criminal defense attorneys for additional information.