NJ Weapons Offense Attorney
Defending People Charged With Weapons Offenses
Have you been charged with a weapons offense? Did you neglect to get the proper license for your weapon? Or maybe you had an improper license or permit and didn’t realize it? There are many ways that someone can be charged with a weapons offense. In addition to the requirement of a permit or license, there are certain weapons that you can’t have at all. Antique weapons collectors often collect illegal items without even realizing they are breaking the law, but whatever the circumstances surrounding your arrest, weapons offenses are serious crimes that can lead to fines, jail time, and permanent prohibition from owning a gun. If you’ve been charged or indicted with a weapons offense in New Jersey, you need a New Jersey weapons offense lawyer.
My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey criminal defense attorney and partner at The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo. As a former prosecutor, and now defense attorney with over 35 years of criminal trial experience, I have the knowledge and the skills to defend you against your charge. Whether you are an antique weapon’s collector caught in untimely circumstances or a convicted felon holding weapons for unlawful purposes, I will zealously defend your charge and make sure you receive the best defense possible given the circumstances of your case. Call 908-643-6801 or contact me online for a free initial consultation and we will discuss your rights. Our firm represents clients throughout New Jersey including the towns of Red Bank, Cranford, Toms River, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Plainfield, Freehold, Eatontown, East Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Westfield, Clark, Rahway, Piscataway, Sayreville, Elizabeth, Middletown, and Asbury Park.
Offenses and Penalties If Convicted
There are four main ways a person can be convicted of a weapons offense. First, it is illegal to even possess certain weapons that are very dangerous. Second, weapons may not be possessed for an unlawful purpose, meaning for the purpose of committing a crime. Third, it is illegal to possess certain weapons without a license or permit. Fourth, there are certain people who based on their prior conduct cannot have a weapon at all no matter what the circumstances are. Let’s take a look at each of the four groups of violations.
Prohibited Weapons and Devices
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3, there are certain weapons that a person may not even have in their possession. These are known as prohibited weapons and devices. However, in order to be convicted of possessing a prohibited weapon or device, you must knowingly possess it. An experienced defense attorney may be able to defend your case by proving your possession of the illegal weapon was not knowingly. Take a look at the following weapons and the charges that come along with possessing them.
It is a 3rd degree crime to knowingly possess the following weapons. A conviction of a 3rd degree crime carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
- Destructive devices
- Sawed-off shotguns
It is a 4th degree crime to knowingly possess the following weapons. A conviction of a 4th degree crime carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
- Defaced firearms (except an antique firearm or antique handgun)
- Gravity knives
- Billy clubs
- Metal knuckles
- Sand clubs
- Cestuses (armored or weaponized gloves)
- Ballistic knives
- Any leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood.
- Hollow-point bullets (those which penetrate bullet-proof vests)
- Stun guns
For many of these weapons there are exceptions for law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces, and weapons dealers and manufacturers. In addition, the law does not prohibit someone from purchasing hollow bullets and taking them back to his property.
Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, a person may not possess a weapon for an unlawful purpose, meaning to commit a crime. Take a look at the following weapons and the charges that apply when you possess weapons for an unlawful purpose to use against person or property.
It is a 2nd degree crime to possess the following weapons with the purpose to use them unlawfully against the person or property of another. A conviction of a 2nd degree crime carries a prison term of 5 to 10 years.
- Destructive devices
It is a 3rd degree crime to possess any other weapon for the purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another. A conviction of a 3rd degree crime carries a prison term of up to 5 years.
It is a 4th degree crime to possess imitation firearms for the purpose to use them unlawfully against the person or property of another. A conviction of a 4th degree crime carries a prison term of up to 18 months.
Unlawful Possession of Weapons
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, it is illegal to possess certain weapons if a person does not have the proper license or permit. Take a look at the following weapons charges that apply when you possess certain weapons without a license.
It is a 3rd degree crime to possess the following weapons without a license or permit. A conviction of a 3rd degree crime carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
- Machine guns
- Assault firearm
It is a 4th degree crime to possess any other weapon without a license or permit. A conviction of a 4th degree crime carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
Unless otherwise permitted by law, if someone has a loaded shot gun or rifle then that person has committed a 3rd degree crime irrespective of the permit or license. This would not include having a loaded rifle or shotgun in a place that the permit or license allows because that would be permitted by law.
Even when someone has a permit, there are certain places people are not allowed to have weapons. For example, it is a 3rd degree crime to have any firearms on any part of a school regardless of whether you have the proper permit, and it is a disorderly persons offense to have an imitation weapon in any part of a school regardless of whether you have a permit. A disorderly persons offense can carry a penalty of up to 6 months in prison and $1,000 in fines.
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, there are certain individuals who are not allowed to have weapons at all. For example, any person who has ever been committed to a mental hospital or any person who has ever been convicted of any crime other than a disorderly persons offense is guilty of a 4th degree crime if they possess a weapon. A 4th degree crime carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months. Additionally, a conviction of certain crimes combined with the later possession of a weapon may lead to charges greater than a 4th degree crime. Take a look at the following crimes for which there is a greater penalty if you are convicted and later possess a weapon.
It is a 2nd degree crime to possess a weapon if you have been convicted of the following crimes. The prison term includes a minimum of 5 years without parole.
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual assault
- Bias intimidation
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Stalking; or
- A crime involving domestic violence
It is a 3rd degree crime to possess a weapon if you have ever been convicted of a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence. A 3rd degree crime carries a prison term of up to 5 years.
Weapons Used During the Commission of a Crime
In addition to the above rules, it is also illegal to possess a weapon while committing a crime.
Under the laws of New Jersey, if a person has a firearm during the course of committing, trying to commit, or conspiring to commit a crime, that in itself constitutes a 2nd degree crime. However, if someone has any other weapon besides a firearm in their possession while in the course of committing a crime, that person can also be charged with a 2nd degree crime, but that person must have the intent to use the weapon unlawfully against the person or property of another.
- The difference between the two laws is that when someone possesses a firearm during a crime, that is enough to warrant a 2nd degree charge, but when someone possesses any other weapon besides a firearm, they need to have the intent to use it against someone during the crime in order to be charged in the 2nd degree.
If you are a juvenile and you have been charged with a weapons offense, the legal process may different. Click on Juvenile Offenses to learn more about the process and penalties that attach to juvenile crimes.
If you have been charged with a weapons offense in New Jersey, you need a New Jersey weapons defense attorney who will zealously defend your rights. Contact me today at 908-643-6801 or online for a free initial consultation and let’s talk about possible defenses for your case. I have obtained thousands of dismissals and downgraded charges when defending my clients against weapons offenses. While each case is unique, there may be many ways I can defend your case, but first you have to call.
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