New Jersey is arguably one of the strictest states for guns and is one of only a few states that does not guarantee its residents’ right to bear arms. It is notoriously difficult to obtain a permit for a weapon in New Jersey and it is very easy for individuals to have their rights revoked.
There are five basic ways for individuals to end up charged with weapons offenses in New Jersey.
- Unlawful Possession
Theoretically, most New Jerseyans are permitted under law to own a weapon with the proper license or permit (except “prohibited weapons” — see below). Without such a license, however, owning a weapon is a crime.
Possession of a firearm – including handguns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and assault weapons – without a permit is a third-degree crime, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison. For any other weapon that requires a license or permit, unlawful possession is a fourth-degree crime and carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
- Possession for Unlawful Purposes
It is illegal to purchase, own, or carry a weapon with the intention of committing a crime. The severity of the charge depends on several factors. For example, it is a second-degree crime to use a gun, fireworks, or other explosives against and person or property and a conviction can lead to 5 to 10 years in prison.
Using any other weapon against someone is a third-degree crime. In addition, using a toy or non-functional model/replica gun in a way that might lead someone to believe it is a real gun is a fourth-degree crime.
- Persons Barred from Owning Weapons
There are circumstances under which a person could be barred from owning a gun at all, such as if he or she has ever been committed to a mental hospital or has ever been convicted of a serious crime. In most such cases, owning a gun or other weapon is a fourth-degree crime. However, some violent crime convictions – such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, or domestic violence – make owning a gun a second-degree crime.
- Prohibited Weapons
Certain weapons are straight-up outlawed in New Jersey – there is no legal way to obtain them and possessing them is automatically a crime. Known as prohibited weapons and devices, this category is reserved for items deemed too dangerous for the public. There are five basic categories of prohibited weapons:
- Destructive (i.e. explosive devices): Willful possession is a third-degree crime.
- Sawed-off shotguns: Also a third-degree crime.
- Silencers: Knowingly having one is a fourth-degree crime.
- Defaced firearms: This applies to a weapon that has been altered in any way (except antique firearms) and is a fourth-degree crime.
- Other weapons: This includes a gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sandclub, slingshot, ballistic knife, and a cestus or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood. Getting caught with such a weapon without any explainable lawful purpose is a fourth-degree crime.
- Having a Weapon While Committing a Crime
Simply having a weapon while committing a crime is a second-degree crime if it can be proven that the intention was to use the weapon against a person or property. For guns, however, it is a second-degree crime even if no intention can be proven.
What to Do if You’re Facing Weapons Charges?
Any weapons-related charges in New Jersey should be taken very seriously. If you or a loved one has been charged with weapons-related offense or any other crime, contact an attorney with the skills and knowledge to get the results you want. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are prominent criminal defense attorneys that have handled numerous cases such as these in New Jersey. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 for a free consultation about your case today.