In New Jersey, using a seemingly legal object, like a baseball bat, can become a crime if used in an improper manner. A baseball bat has a seemingly legal purpose for recreational sports. However, because of the ability to cause severe, and potentially lethal injuries, to others, it can also be a weapon.
There are many crimes you can be charged with the unlawful possession of the bat.
Possession for Unlawful Purposes: Under N.J.S. 2C:39-4(d), any person who has in their possession, any weapon, except a firearm, with the purpose to use it unlawfully against another person or their property, is guilty of a crime of the third degree. As a Third-Degree crime, it is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, even if no one was hurt. The most common situation where a bat becomes a weapon is during “road rage” incidents where one party brandishes a bat in a threatening manner.
Unlawful Possession of a Weapon: Under N.J.S., 2C:39-5(d), criminalizes possession of a weapon, like a baseball bat, if it is possessed under circumstances not appropriate for such lawful use. This is also a crime seen with road rage situations, where a person had a bat for protection in his, or her car, but later used it as a weapon. The police may argue that the purpose of having the bat was not recreational, but rather for violence. This is why New Jersey Criminal defense lawyers often caution people to carry a glove and ball with them, if they will carry a bat.
Robbery: If, while committing the crime of theft, you use a baseball bat to injure another or threaten to injure another you can be charged with Robbery, in violation ofN.J.S. 2C:15-1. This is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 fine. If you attempt to kill someone with a baseball bat, or seriously injure someone with a bat, then it is a First-Degree crime, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. Robbery is such a serious crime, that a conviction for Robbery with a knife is subject to the “No Early Release Act,” (NERA), which means you must serve 85% of the sentence before being released. Further, Robbery is one crime that cannot be expunged and will stay on your record and follow you forever.
Aggravated Assault: If you used a baseball bat during a fight, you could be charged Aggravated Assault, under N.J.S. 2C:12-1, even of the victim suffered no injury. This is a Second-Degree crime, and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in State Prison. This sentence is also subject to the “No Early Release Act,” (NERA), which means you must serve 85% of the sentence before being released.
Defending a Weapons Possession Charge
Like all weapons charges, you have certain rights that must be explored when defending you against illegal use or possession of a baseball bat. The first are to investigate is whether your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. If the police entered your property, like a home or car (including trunk), then they must have a warrant to take it, or one of the few exceptions as to why a warrant was not needed. There could also be Fifth Amendment defenses if you confessed to possessing, or using, the baseball bat, and you were not read your rights.
Because a baseball bat is legal to own and possess, there are more defenses available, than with other weapons, such as self-defense. Other defenses include lack of knowledge of its presence or that the baseball bat belonged to, or was used by someone else.
You Need a New Jersey Weapons Possession Attorney
If you are facing a charge of possession of a baseball bat for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of a weapon, like a baseball bat, robbery, or aggravated assault, the potential consequences can be devastating. Having an experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney is crucial in these circumstances.
Steven W. Hernandez will provide you with aggressive representation to mitigate, or possibly eliminate, the penalties associated with your charges. To help ensure your rights and future are protected, allow a New Jersey weapons possession lawyer, from our firm, fight for you. Request a free consultation. Call us today at 732-286-2700.