New Jersey has some of the country’s strictest weapons laws, and violating those laws means that you may be facing massive fines and years of imprisonment.
When you’ve been arrested for a firearms offense in New Jersey, you need to act quickly to protect your rights, freedom, and future. A knowledgeable firearms crime defense lawyer can guide you through the criminal justice process and advise you as to the best course of action to minimize the consequences of your weapons charges.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a firearms offense in New Jersey, Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC is ready to aggressively advocate for you and your gun rights.
We offer free consultations to all prospective clients so that they can get a sense of their legal rights and options and learn more about how our firm can help them obtain the best outcome in their charges.
Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC is available 24/7. If you are facing gun charges in New Jersey, call today for a free consultation. To avoid prosecution, you need an experienced firearms defense attorney that knows New Jersey gun law and knows how the prosecutors operate in New Jersey courts.
We’ll review your case at no charge to you.
New Jersey Weapon Charges & Laws
New Jersey recognizes several gun offenses; all are serious and can lead to imprisonment and fines. While some of these crimes are charged for the simple possession of a gun in particular circumstances, others increase the severity of what would have been a lesser offense. For example, an assault charge is elevated to assault with a deadly weapon when a gun is involved.
These are just a few of the weapons crimes your New Jersey gun lawyer has experience defending against:
- Concealed weapon charges
- Unlawful possession of a weapon under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)
- Felon in possession of a firearm
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Armed robbery
- Domestic violence
What is the New Jersey Red Flag Law?
Finally, New Jersey also has a “red flag” law, a law that is being adopted in more and more states. Under the red flag law, law enforcement can confiscate the firearms of any individual believed to pose a threat to themselves or others, upon obtaining judicial approval for the confiscation.
The law also allows family members to make a request to the police or the court to have a person’s firearms and ammunition removed based on the family’s belief that their loved one poses a threat to themselves and others.
Under the red flag law, a judge will issue a temporary order requiring the gun owner to surrender their firearms. Within 10 days, the owner will be granted a hearing at which the court will decide whether to grant a final protective order or to release the firearms back to their owner.
Who Can’t Own a Firearm in New Jersey?
State law prohibits certain categories of individuals from owning firearms at any time and for any reason:
- Anyone convicted of a violent crime (including homicide, aggravated assault, arson, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, sexual assault, or domestic violence), regardless of whether they used a firearm during the commission of that crime
- Any person with a prior domestic violence conviction
- Any person who has been committed for mental health treatment
- Persons who are subjected to a restraining order
- Persons who have been deemed by a court to be drug dependent
- Persons who are listed on terror watch lists
A conviction or institutionalization from another state also prohibits you from possessing a firearm in New Jersey. Persons must be at least 21 years old to apply for a permit to possess a handgun (unless their job requires them to possess a handgun earlier).
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What Is Considered an Illegal Firearm in NJ?
Under New Jersey law, a firearm can be considered an “illegal” firearm either because that type of firearm is prohibited in New Jersey, because the person who has possession of the firearm is prohibited from possessing a firearm, or because the person is using the firearm for an illegal purpose. Examples of firearms include handguns, rifles, and assault rifles, to name a few.
Firearms that are entirely prohibited (with exceptions for the military, law enforcement, and persons with certain federal firearms licenses) under New Jersey law include:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Firearms with silencers
- Firearms with their serial numbers altered, removed, or otherwise made illegible
- Firearms with armor-piercing rounds
- Firearms with large-capacity magazines
Even a firearm that would otherwise be legal may be deemed illegal based on the circumstances of the person possessing the gun, such as:
- Unlawful possession of a firearm
- Possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose
- Possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime
- Persons prohibited from owning a firearm
Penalties for Weapons & Firearms Convictions in NJ
New Jersey has extremely strict laws when it comes to illegal possession of firearms. Sentencing statutes for weapons offenses even impose mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on parole eligibility for certain weapons offenses.
If you have been convicted of a weapons offense, you could be facing the following penalties:
- Fourth-degree weapons offenses – Up to 18 months imprisonment and up to $7,500 in fines
- Third-degree weapons offenses – Up to five years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree weapons offenses – Up to 10 years imprisonment with a mandatory period of parole ineligibility ranging between one and three-and-a-half years, and up to $150,000 in fines
Weapons convictions in New Jersey carry harsh penalties, so if you or a loved one are facing firearms charges in New Jersey, you need a dedicated, experienced gun crime defense attorney on your side to help you minimize the consequences of a conviction or even avoid a conviction altogether.
The exact weapons crime you are charged with will depend on a number of factors, including the location where you were arrested and whether you had a permit for the firearm involved. For example, concealing a weapon while in a public school can be much more severe than carrying a gun in your car.
However, if this is your first offense, then this can sometimes work in your favor, especially if you are genuinely remorseful for what happened. A first offense can make it easier to get a lenient sentence or a plea bargain, but this should never be your first option.
Instead, our firm will explore all options to win your acquittal or to obtain a complete dismissal of your weapons charge.
Potential Defenses to NJ Gun Crime Charges
If you’ve been charged with a gun crime in New Jersey, there may be legal defenses you can raise against your charges, depending on the circumstances of your case, including:
- Possession – In cases where the state argues that you had constructive possession of a firearm, rather than actual, physical possession, you may be able to raise a defense that you did not have legal constructive possession of the gun; instead, that the firearm belonged to someone else.
- Valid license – If you are being charged with unlawful possession, having a valid license in New Jersey to possess the firearm is a defense.
- Unlawful search – Many weapons charges defenses hinge on proving that the police’s search that uncovered the firearm was unlawful or unconstitutional; it may be possible to show that police lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop, detain, or arrest you, or lacked probable cause to conduct a warrantless search.
A strong legal strategy to defend against gun charges in New Jersey may also include vigorous plea negotiations to reduce the seriousness of your charges. Reducing the severity of your charges can go a long way to reducing your exposure to extensive prison time.
Graves Act Waiver
Many gun crimes fall under a section of law called the Graves Act, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted. However, our attorneys may be able to negotiate a waiver in some circumstances.
A Graves Act waiver means that the prosecution agrees to waive the mandatory prison penalties associated with the graves act and, in some circumstances, may agree that the individual should not be subject to any jail time.