What Are the Penalties for a Weapons Possession Charge in NJ?

  • Criminal Defense

Among the states with the stiffest penalties for weapon possession in the United States is New Jersey. And if you are convicted, you’ll be ineligible for parole for 42 months per the Grave’s Act. 

A downgrade or dismissal of your weapons possession charge can save you from the severe consequences of a weapons possession charge. Working with an expert New Jersey criminal defense lawyer is necessary to give your case the best outcomes.

What Criteria is Used for Weapons Possession Convictions?

In New Jersey, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 defines unlawful weapon possession, and you can be penalized if the prosecution proves that you violated this law.

You might get into trouble if there is evidence that:

  • There was a weapon
  • The weapon was in your possession as the accused person
  • You knew what the weapon was and how it could be used
  • The weapon was not appropriate for lawful use in those circumstances

What are the Penalties for Unlawful Possession?

If you are found with a weapon in circumstances where it is not appropriate, you can be charged for unlawful possession. Here are the two categories and their penalties:

Possession of Firearms

It involves machine guns, shotguns, rifles, handguns, and assault weapons without a permit. The crime is considered third-degree and can attract a jail term of three to five years.

Possession of Other Weapons

Being found with other forms of weapons (other than firearms) without a license is considered a fourth-degree crime. A conviction can land you up to 18 months in prison.

What is the Punishment for Possession for Unlawful Purpose?

This is where one buys, owns, or carries a weapon because they intend to commit a crime. In most cases, the crime of “possessing a weapon for unlawful purposes” is charged along with other crimes like robbery or burglary.

Here are the various forms of this crime and their punishment:

A second-degree crime of possession for an unlawful purpose: It involves using explosives like fireworks or guns in another person’s property. Convicts can be sentenced to between 5 and 10 years.

A third-degree crime of possession for an unlawful purpose: It involves using other forms of weapons in an attempt to cause harm to another person. You can stay in jail for between 3 and 5 years if you are found guilty.

A fourth-degree crime of possession for an unlawful purpose: Using a replica gun or a toy gun is punishable by 18 months in jail.

What’s the Prison Time for Prohibited Weapons?

New Jersey prohibits possession of certain weapons, and there is no way anyone can own or use them legally.

The categories include:

Defaced firearms: Apart from antique firearms, any firearm that can be altered in any way is prohibited. Its possession is punished as a fourth-degree crime.

Silencers: Having silencers in New Jersey is illegal and can be charged as a fourth-degree crime. It attracts up to 18 months of imprisonment. 

Sawed-off shotgun: Possessing it is a third-degree offense in New Jersey.

Destructive devices: anyone found with a destructive device may serve between 3 and 5 years in prison. The crime is categorized under third-degree crimes.

Other weapons: If you possess a deadly weapon in New Jersey; a slingshot, sand club, metal knuckle, blackjack, billy, stiletto, dirk, dagger, switchblade knife, gravity knife, ballistic knife, cestus, razor blades embedded in wood, or leather band studded with metal filings – you can be charged with a fourth-degree crime. You can be jailed for up to 18 months if you are convicted. 

How Can I Beat a Weapons Possession Charge?

A weapons charge in New Jersey is quite serious, and the best way to guarantee your freedom is by working with a Toms River, NJ weapon possession lawyer. The history of the accused person and the facts of the case will determine the strategy used to produce the most effective defense.

Here are some strategies:

Search and Seizure Circumstances

If the police entered your home to search and seize the weapon without a warrant, the evidence could be invalid. Your New Jersey weapon possession lawyer could ask the court to dismiss the case if the procedure used by the prosecution was unlawful.

Constructive Possession

If other people were present where the weapon was found – for example, a car with several people – the charges could be challenged on the grounds of constructive possession. In such an instance, it may not be clear who it belongs to.

Are the Consequences of Weapons Possession Different for Minors?

The statute governing people under the age of 18 is different from the one used for adults. According to 2C:58-6.1, it is illegal for minors to use, carry, possess, or acquire a weapon. If the minor is found in possession of a prohibited weapon or firearm, they may be detained for one year in a juvenile facility.

Notably, weapons possession cases where a minor is involved take place in Family Courts in New Jersey. Remember that a guilty verdict remains in the child’s criminal record and can hinder his/her ability to attend college or get a job. An experienced Toms River weapon possession attorney can defend the minor, save them from conviction, or help expunge their criminal record.

How Can I Expunge Weapon Possession Charges?

Once one has completed the terms of their sentence – that is, payment of fines, parole, and prison time – they can apply to have their record expunged after six years. The eligibility requirements are specific, and an expungement attorney in Toms River, NJ, can help you determine if you qualify.

A Legal Representative Helping You Understand Your Options

Whether you are familiar with the legal system or not, being arrested and charged with a weapons possession crime in New Jersey can be stressful and nerve-wracking. You can easily get convicted and lose your freedom without a trained and experienced expert by your side.

Receiving personal attention is key to the success of any legal defense. Call (732) 286-2700 for a free case evaluation and allow an NJ criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights or that of a loved one.

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