New Jersey Weapons Offense Lawyers
Illegal Weapons Charge Defense Attorneys in Monmouth County
New Jersey’s weapon laws are notoriously complex. Violating these laws can result in incarceration, mandatory forfeiture of your firearms, the loss of your Second Amendment right to bear arms, significant monetary penalties, a criminal record, and, in some instances, the loss of one’s job. Merely possessing certain weapons (such as a stun gun) may result in a felony conviction, even if you only possess it for self defense. If you have been charged with a weapons-related offense, you need an experienced New Jersey gun lawyer who will defend your Second Amendment rights. Contact Shebell & Shebell.
Common weapons offenses in New Jersey
Often, individuals are charged with weapons offenses because they failed to go through the proper channels to acquire a permit or license. We have a successful track record of handling all types of weapon charges, including:
- Unlawful possession of a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5): Individuals cannot knowingly possess machine guns, handguns, rifles or assault rifles (automatic weapons) without first having obtained the appropriate license or permit. Individuals also cannot possess “other weapons” for inappropriate use. Any individual who knowingly possesses firearms in an educational institution without written authorization of the school’s governing officer is guilty of a third-degree crime, even if they have a valid permit to carry the weapon. Possession of “other weapons” and imitation firearms in schools is also prohibited by law.
- Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1): In order for a person to be convicted of this offense, the government must prove that they possessed a weapon for the purpose of using it unlawfully against a person or property. An example of this crime would be the use of a knife to commit theft. A conviction for this crime can result in a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- Possession by a convicted felon or another person ineligible to possess a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7): If an individual has been convicted of a felony, possession of a firearm is a second-degree crime punishable by between five and ten years in prison. Individuals who have been committed to a mental institution and individuals with a prior domestic violence conviction are also ineligible to carry weapons.
- Possession of a defaced firearm (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(d)): It is unlawful to possess a firearm that has had its serial number, manufacturer’s name, or model number removed, covered, altered or destroyed.
- Possession of a stun gun (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(h)): Possession of a stun gun is a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey. If convicted you can face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of prohibited ammunition: It is unlawful to possess hollow point, hollow nose, dum-dum, or armor piercing bullets in New Jersey unless you are a law enforcement officer authorized to use this ammunition. You can be convicted of a fourth-degree crime and face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for possessing prohibited ammunition even if you don’t own a gun.
What is a weapon under New Jersey law?
The term “weapon” is broadly defined in New Jersey and includes any object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1 gives a non-exhaustive list, including:
- Components that can be assembled into a weapon
- Gravity knives
- Switchblade knives
- Brass knuckles
- Cesti or similar leather bands studded with metal filings
- Razor blades imbedded in wood
- Stun guns
As this statute makes clear, almost anything can be considered a weapon in New Jersey. Law enforcement will look to the intent of the person possessing the item. Your intent can also be ascertained from your surroundings. For example, if you are carrying a baseball bat on the way to a baseball field, you are unlikely to be arrested for possession of a weapon. But, if you are carrying that same baseball bat late at night in a bar parking lot, law enforcement is more likely to consider the bat a weapon.
Penalties for weapons offenses
New Jersey has some of the harshest penalties for weapons offenses in the United States. Legislation such as the Graves Act and the No Early Release Act subjects individuals convicted of weapons offenses to mandatory minimum prison sentences. If a person is charged with possessing a weapon in conjunction with an act of violence, they will be ineligible for parole until they have served their minimum prison term. Many weapon offenses carry a five-year minimum sentence. A minimum sentence of five years carries a three-year minimum term of imprisonment.
If you are charged with an underlying crime, being in possession of a firearm during the commission of that offense will result in a more serious sentence even if you did not intend to harm anyone with the weapon.
Weapon charges bring other serious consequences, such as having your gun collection permanently confiscated or loss of your job if carrying a weapon is necessary to fulfilling your duties (for example if you are a security guard, police officer or armored truck driver).
Defenses to weapons charges
We will investigate how law enforcement acquired your weapon and whether their search was legal. We can file a motion to suppress the evidence if your constitutional rights were violated. In New Jersey, law enforcement can conduct a search with probable cause or if you give valid consent to the search.
There are many exemptions to the complex laws restricting an individual’s ability to carry a weapon. For example, N.J.S.A. 39-6(e) authorizes individuals to possess “other weapons” (as statutorily defined) in their home or place of business. Also, unloaded weapons may be transported in the trunk of one’s car under certain circumstances. However, the law is nuanced. These exemptions do not apply to convicted felons or individuals charged with possession for an unlawful purpose.
Contact our New Jersey weapons charge attorneys
At Shebell & Shebell, we always strive to get your charges dismissed or downgraded. We consider all options and work closely with our clients to achieve a positive outcome. We represent individuals charged with gun crimes and weapons offenses throughout New Jersey. For a free consultation, Contact Shebell & Shebell today.