Charged With a Gun or Weapons Offense in New Jersey? You Could Face Up To 10 Years in Prison
Gun and weapons charges in New Jersey, such as the unlawful possession of a firearm, carrying an unlicensed weapon, carrying a gun without a permit, juvenile weapons charges, or possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, are all very serious charges. If convicted, these crimes almost always result in jail time, with many of the charges having lengthy periods of parole ineligibility.
In addition to the considerable fines and court costs associated with being convicted of a gun or weapons charge, the mandatory incarceration that follows a conviction often leads to difficulty finding employment, and frequently takes a toll on your personal life, causing irreparable harm to relationships with friends, family, children, and your spouse or significant other.
If you or someone you care about is facing a gun or weapons charge, I encourage you to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney today. New Jersey gun and weapon charges are serious, and you need a lawyer who will give you the best defense possible.
Types of New Jersey Gun and Weapons Charges
New Jersey gun and weapons charges can be broken down into four basic categories: (1) the weapon itself was illegal; (2) you possessed the weapon for an illegal purpose; (3) you were not permitted to possess the weapon; or (4) possession of the weapon is specifically and explicitly prohibited.
1. Illegal Weapons
The charge of possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon is usually a crime of the 3rd or 4th degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If the weapon was a handgun, the crime is a 2nd degree offense and can result in a sentence of up to 10 years in jail with up to 5 years of parole ineligibility.
Dangerous or illegal weapons include:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Weapons with a silencer
- Machine guns
- Stun guns
- Assault rifles
- High capacity magazines
- Defaced firearms, such as weapons with the serial number filed off or otherwise erased
- Illegal explosives
- Armor piercing ammunition
2. Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose
Possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose is a broad offense that is generally charged when you have a weapon and intend to use it against the person or property of another. These cases are unusual in that you can be convicted of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose without having used the weapon at all.
Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is a crime of the 3rd degree, for non-firearm weapons, and 2nd degree for firearms such as a handgun and can result in up to 10 years of incarceration, again, usually with a period of parole ineligibility.
3. Unlawful Possession or Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons
Unlawful possession of a firearm means that you are not permitted to have the weapon or that you do not have the legal authorization to possess, own, or carry a weapon. People with prior felony convictions are generally not permitted to own or possess firearms. Likewise, people on parole or probation, or who have recently been released from a mental institution are usually not permitted to have firearms. Depending on the type of weapon, a conviction for illegally possessing a firearm can lead to a maximum of 10 years incarceration. In New Jersey, if you do not have a permit to carry a firearm or fall within one of the enumerated exceptions, you can not carry a firearm.
4. The Possession of a Weapon Is Specifically and Explicitly Prohibited
This category of weapons charge arises when you possess a weapon in a specific place where carrying a weapon is not permitted, such as a school, an airport, or any other place where possession of a firearm is explicitly prohibited, or when you possess a type of weapon that is expressly prohibited. These charges may likewise arise if you possess a weapon during commission of another crime, in which case the possession of a weapon can be an aggravating factor and result in more severe charges and penalties.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing a Gun or Weapons Charge?
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a gun or weapons offense in Central New Jersey, contact me at The Slaven Law Firm today. As a former prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney, I have handled numerous gun and weapons cases, and am very familiar with New Jersey’s gun and weapons laws. As with any criminal charge, the sooner we can begin preparing your defense, the better. I will investigate your case to raise any possible defenses, including whether the search and seizure that led to the gun or weapons charge was proper, whether there was a warrant, and if there was no warrant whether the police acted pursuant to our Federal and State Constitutions. If successful, we may be able to negotiate a less severe sentence, or even have the case thrown out.
Depending on the firearms or weapons offense and the factual circumstances, there could be pre trial intervention programs for first-time offenders, many courts offer intervention programs that may help you avoid having a conviction for a gun or weapons charge follow you for the rest of your life.
I understand that facing any kind of criminal charge – especially one involving guns or weapons – is scary. But you don’t have to go it alone. From my office in Hamilton Township, I defend people facing gun and weapons charges throughout New Jersey, focusing primarily on cases in Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Burlington County. If you have questions about a gun or weapons charge, contact me today for answers.