New Jersey strictly enforces weapons crimes. In New Jersey, a weapons violation can enhance the severity of other crimes, such as elevating a theft to a robbery, or a simple assault to an aggravated assault. These crimes can subject you to the No Early Release Act (NERA), in which you must serve a term of incarceration before becoming eligible for parole.
Felony Weapons Defense
Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purposes
New Jersey makes it a crime under 2C:39-4, to use any weapon, or item that could be a weapon, with the purpose to use it unlawfully against another person, or their property. Their severity of the crime is based on the weapon used.
- 2C:39-4(a), Firearms: It is a Second Degree Crime if the weapon was a firearm. This is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine.
- 2C:39-4(c), Explosives: Possession of explosives with the intention of using it unlawfully is a crime of the Second Degree, and punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine.
- 2C:39-4(d), Other Weapons: this includes knives, bats, clubs, daggers, dirks, brass knuckles, nunchucks, etc. Possession of these weapons, intending to use unlawfully is a crime of the third degree, and punishable with 3 to 5 years in prison and a up to a $15,000 fine.
Unlawful possession of Weapons: Under 2C:39-5
New Jersey makes it unlawful to possess certain weapons, even if there is no plan on using them in an illegal manner. Some weapons require a permit to own and punish lose who are lot licensed, while others are always strictly prohibited.
- Machine Guns, unless you have a license to possess or carry a machine gun, possession of these weapons is always a crime. Machine guns are weapons able to deliver a burst of fire with a single pull of the trigger. Possession of a machine gun, without a license, is a crime of the second degree and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.
- Assault Firearms: There has been much publicity in the news over assault weapons during crimes. Possession of an assault firearm, without a license, is a crime of the second degree, and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.
- Rifles and Shotguns, possession of a rifle or shotgun without having a Firearms Identification Card is a crime of the Third-Degree and is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, and up to a $15,000 fine.
- Possession of a Handgun: Possession of a handgun with a permit and a firearms identification car is a crime of the second degree and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
- Possession of Other Weapons: Possession of other weapons, such as knives, brass knuckles, nunchucks, etc., so it is not appropriate for such use, is a crime of the Fourth-Degree, and is punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
Robbery with a Weapon, 2C:15-1
If you use a weapon during ta theft, then you can be charged with robbery. Second Degree robbery, which is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, requires the use of a weapon and use of force upon another, any bodily injury on another, putting another in fear of bodily harm, or threatening to harm another. It becomes a crime of the First Degree if you use the weapon to attempt to kill, purposefully inflict serious bodily injury on another, or threatens to immediately use the weapon with deadly force.
Aggravated Assault with a Weapon, 2C:12-1
If you cause or attempt to cause bodily injury to another, with a deadly weapon, then you are guilty of Aggravated Assault, Third-Degree Crime, punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison. If you inflict serious bodily injury on another, then you are guilty of a Second-Degree crime, which is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. Additionally, you are also subject to the No Early Release Act, which means you must serve 85% of any custodial sentence.
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons, N.J.S. 2C: 39-7
If you have a prior criminal conviction or have been committed for a mental disorder, or have been the subject of a final restraining order, then you will be considered a “certain person not to own, or possess, weapons.” The seriousness of this charge will depend on whether the alleged weapon was a firearm. Possession of any weapon other than a firearm, by a certain person, is a crime of the Fourth-degree, and punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Possession of a firearm by a “certain person” is a crime of the second degree, and punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, with a minimum time in confinement et at 5 years.
Defending Against a New Jersey Weapons Possession Charge
There are many defenses to a New Jersey weapons possession charge. Foremost, because you have a Constitutional Right to bear arms, it must be determined if the weapon you are accused of possessing is actually prohibited. New Jersey weapons charges can be confusing, and many citizens and police officers can easily mistake a legal weapon or an illegal one.
If the weapon is prohibited, then other defenses must be explored. This starts with an analysis of your Fourth Amendment Right, and whether the weapons were lawfully found and taken from you. Under the Fourth Amendment, police must have a warrant to enter and search your property, or must be able to articulate an exception to the warrant requirement, or else the evidence seized must be suppressed by the court. If you were stopped for a traffic violation and the weapon found during the stop, then the traffic stop must be challenged. If you consented to a search and they found the weapon, that consent must be challenged. If the weapon was found in “plain view,” then the vantage point of the officer must be challenged.
Example: You are stopped for a traffic violation. During the stop, the police officer sticks his head in your car window and sees a handgun on the floor of the passenger side, and you are arrested. In this situation, there are two potential constitutional challenges. First, the traffic stop must be challenged to see if a motor vehicle violation can be proven. Second, the “plain view” discovery must be challenged. In this situation the officer could not see the gun without entering your car, so the search would be invalid.
Other defenses include, whether you knew the weapons were located where found, on your possession, or whether the weapons belonged to someone else. It is not a defense you did not know the weapon was illegal.
Give Our Offices a Call for Help with Your Case Today!
If you are facing a charge of possession, or use, of a weapon, robbery, or aggravated assault with a weapon in New Jersey, the potential consequences can be severe. Having strong legal advocacy, from an experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense attorney, is crucial in these circumstances.
Steven W. Hernandez represents people charged with state and federal weapons violations and related crimes, including: felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, Weapons sales, or trafficking, Robbery, Aggravated assault with a weapon, and other weapons charges.
Due to the severe consequences of a weapons violation conviction, you do not want to take chances with your defense. You need a lawyer with the experience and skill to protect your rights and keep you out of prison. Attorney, 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. To request a free consultation, call us today at 732-286-2700.