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New Jersey weapons offenses 2: Unlawful possession of a weapon

We began our last post with a general discussion of what is considered a weapon crime under the laws of New Jersey. Keeping in mind that there are also federal laws regulating weapons, there are four main groups of weapon crimes in New Jersey. The first group included laws prohibiting certain weapons altogether. This second group of offenses involves weapons that you need a permit to lawfully own.

New Jersey requires permits for all firearms, explosives and destructive devices

If you're not a law enforcement officer or otherwise exempt from the regulation of ordinary weapons in New Jersey, you need a permit to own any kind of gun, explosive device or destructive device. The permits required vary by type of weapon and can also vary by situation. For example, the pre-purchase permit you need buying a firearm is completely different from the permit you would need to carry a gun publicly.

Having any of these weapons in your possession without a permit is considered a crime of the third degree, meaning a conviction could get you between three and five years behind bars:

  • Handguns
  • Unloaded rifles
  • Unloaded shotguns

Having a loaded rifle or shotgun in your possession is illegal regardless of whether you have a permit or license. It is a third-degree crime, too.

It is legal in New Jersey to own an assault weapon or a machine gun, but a specific license is required. Going without one is a crime of the second degree, which carries a penalty of five to ten years of imprisonment.

Other weapons can be problematic, as well. Under New Jersey law, anyone found in possession of any weapon "under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have," would be committing a crime of the fourth degree, which could get you up to 18 months in jail.

If you are in possession of explosives destructive devices, or any potentially dangerous devices that are not intended for an authorized or lawful commercial purpose, you have a duty to notify the police. You should do so within 15 days of receiving them, and the police may seize the items for the purpose of inspecting, unloading, processing or destroying them.

In our next post, we'll discuss another group of New Jersey weapon offenses: people specifically prohibited from owning weapons.

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