Camden County NJ Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Lawyer
Weapons Possession Charges Defense Attorney in South Jersey
Unlawful possession of a weapon is perhaps the most commonly issued weapons charge in New Jersey, as it encompasses the illegal possession of handguns, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, and all items classified as “other weapons” under the law. When you are charged with unlawful possession of a weapon violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, the degree of the charges and the penalties you are facing will be determined by the specific weapon involved in the alleged crime. For example, having a handgun in New Jersey without a valid carry permit issued in this State can result in a prison term of between 5 and 10 years. These charges also entail a mandatory period of parole ineligibility, which is required under New Jersey’s Graves Act. Notably, your gun permit must be issued in the State of New Jersey or it is not considered valid and you may be subject to criminal charges and severe consequences.
William Fay is a highly skilled criminal defense attorney who has spent his career in the NJ criminal justice system, investigating and defending clients charged with firearms and other criminal offenses in Southern New Jersey. Over the course of his accomplished career, he has achieved successful outcomes for clients charged with all forms of weapons crimes, ranging from unlawful possession of a gun to certain persons offenses. Prior to becoming a defense attorney, he served as a Deputy Attorney General for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, where he learned the often inaccessible prosecutorial tactics that he now uses to provide the best defense to clients who have been arrested in Berlin, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Gloucester, Cherry Hill, Camden, Haddon Heights, Winslow Township and throughout Camden County. When he takes your case, you find a seasoned professional who will go the extra mile to obtain your most favorable result. To discuss your case with Mr. Fay today, contact his local office at 609-832-3202 for a free consultation.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Other Weapons in New Jersey 2c:39-5
Charges for unlawful possession of a weapon can be found in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. This statute makes several distinctions among weapons classifications, including:
Machine Guns: Possession of a machine gun without a valid license is a second degree crime. Penalties include a New Jersey State Prison sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years, with a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.
Handguns: Possession any handgun, including an antique handgun, without a valid permit to carry is a second degree crime. Penalties include a New Jersey State Prison sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years, with a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.
Air Guns and Pellet Pistols: Possession of an air gun or pellet pistol without a valid permit to carry is a third degree crime. Penalties include a New Jersey State Prison sentence ranging from 3 to 5 years.
Rifles and Shotguns: Possession of a rifle or shotgun without a valid firearms purchaser identification card is a third degree crime. Penalties include a New Jersey State Prison sentence ranging from 3 to 5 years, with a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.
Other Weapons: Possession of any of the weapons listed below under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have, is a fourth degree crime. Penalties include a New Jersey State Prison term of up to 18 months.
What Happens with Illegal Possession of a Gun in NJ?
The reality is that these kinds of weapons charges can happen very easily, even when the accused individual actually has a valid permit to own or carry their firearm. In fact, many times, a charge for unlawful possession of a weapon is filed against a person from another state who unknowingly brings their lawfully obtained and owned handgun into New Jersey while driving through the state. Since the weapon was purchased and even legally possessed in the other state and not in NJ, it is illegal for the person to possess the weapon here. The end result is that the individual is likely to be placed under arrest and facing severe legal consequences.
What does Possessing Other Weapons Mean?
It is that last category in the list above – “other weapons” – that functions as a sort of catch-all provision for law enforcement and prosecutors to bring criminal charges against a person for unlawfully possessing weapons other than firearms. This can include gravity knives, switchblade knives, ballistic knives, daggers, stilettos, blackjacks, tear gas dispensers, brass knuckles, baseball bats, and even slingshots. New Jersey considers any of the following as weapons: defaced firearms, stun guns, gravity knives, switchblade knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos, billies, blackjacks, bludgeons, metal knuckles, sand clubs, slingshots, cesti or similar leather bands studded with metal filings or razor blades embedded in wood, ballistic knives, and hollow-point bullets. In fact, prosecutors often have a great deal of leeway when deciding whether to charge someone with unlawful possession of a non-firearm because the statute stipulates that it is illegal for someone to possess any weapon “under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses.” As a result, a person who is found carrying an object that might otherwise be legal under ordinary circumstances can potentially be charged with a felony for unlawful possession of a weapon if they have the weapon for an illicit or illegal purpose. Moreover, that same person could also be charged with another felony weapons offense for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Charged with Unlawful Possession of Weapons 2C:39-5, Will I go to Jail?
The degree of the charges and the weapon possessed determine whether jail time is required in New Jersey. For instance, second degree unlawful firearms possession is punishable by prison for between 5 to 10 years, with a presumption that prison should be imposed even if it is a person’s first offense. Fortunately, there are strategies for avoiding this devastating outcome but if you simply plead guilty, it is almost certain that you will go to jail. On the other hand, possessing “other weapons” illegally does not necessary lead to jail time. The maximum term is one and a half years, but those without criminal pasts may be good candidates for probation or alternatives to prison.
Due to the diversity among weapons sentencing, it is highly advisable to have your case and all of your options investigated by a weapons defense lawyer who knows what defenses may be available to confront your charges and what other legal avenues you may have at your disposal.
NJ Graves Act for Unlawfully Possessing a Firearm
It is important for anyone charged with unlawful possession of a weapon in New Jersey to have a solid understanding of the Graves Act. This is a statute that applies in gun possession cases and that basically forces the court to sentence the offender to time in prison. Since all Graves Act offenses have a presumption of incarceration, a conviction means that the defendant will probably be ordered to serve time in prison. This will likely be true even if the defendant has no prior arrests or convictions on their record. Moreover, the Graves Act requires a minimum mandatory term of incarceration, which means that the offender will not be eligible for parole or probation. Basically, when the weapon in question is a firearm, the defendant can expect to be sentenced to prison under the Graves Act. And yet, there are ways to circumvent Graves Act sentencing, which is why it is of paramount importance that you have an experienced firearms defense lawyer who knows how to accomplish this and if it is a possibility in your case.
Consult a Gloucester Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon or another weapons offense in Camden County or elsewhere in South Jersey, it is highly advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. New Jersey weapons attorney William Fay is here to provide the dedicated guidance and zealous defense you need to successfully challenge the prosecution’s case against you. He frequently appears in Camden County Superior Court on behalf of those charged with having un-permitted firearms, possessing weapons with unlawful purposes, threatening others with items that may constitute weapons when used inappropriately, and possession of a gun or other weapon while committing another crime such as aggravated assault or robbery. Contact our firm at 609-832-3202 for additional information and to discuss your case free of charge.