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How does New Jersey criminal law classify weapons crimes?

State criminal law in New Jersey defines four broad categories of weapons offenses. Possession of certain weapons may result in criminal charges. Possession of weapons for the purpose of committing a crime or some other illegal purpose may also constitute a weapons offense. Other weapons may require a license or permit. Finally, individuals with certain types of convictions in their criminal record, such as violent crimes, may also be prohibited from possessing a firearm or weapon of any kind.

The punishments for weapons crimes can also be severe, as a recent New Jersey criminal defendant has discovered. The 34-year-old resident of Jersey City was arrested on a weapons possession charge. Since the man also had a prior robbery conviction to his record, the arrest was for possession of a weapon by a felon. The alleged weapons seized by authorities included a .380 caliber handgun with a loaded magazine and a machete. The weapons were confiscated after police searched the man’s home with a search warrant. 

As I explain on my criminal defense law website, possession of a weapon without a license or permit generally results in a fourth degree crime under state law, punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Fines and other punishments may also attach to a conviction for weapons possession.

Individuals with a prior criminal conviction are also not allowed to possess weapons, and the violation of that prohibition may result in a fourth degree crime. However, the type of crime may elevate the offense. In the case of a prior robbery conviction, possession of a weapon may constitute a second degree offense. That punishment scheme may explain the high bail amount in today’s story: The man’s first court appearance resulted in bail being set at $25,000. 

Source: nj.com, “Jersey City felon back in court on gun, machete charges,” Michaelangelo Conte, Aug. 20, 2015 

Related Article: Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud, “Four Ways to Commit Weapons Offenses in New Jersey

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