Imitation Firearm Attorney in Elizabeth, New Jersey
New Jersey has firearm laws which regulate machine guns, rifles, BB-guns and even imitation guns. That is not to say that you can get arrested for just owning a toy cap gun. However, it is a crime to possess an imitation weapon for an unlawful purpose in order to make other people think it is a real firearm. A common example of this would be to use a realistic looking toy gun to rob a bank. The act of using the fake firearm is a fourth degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in state prison, while obviously the act of Robbery would a separate crime in addition. Like all weapon related crimes, offenses involving imitation firearms are complicated and often require the skills of an experienced litigation attorney. The firm’s founding attorney, Will Proetta has successfully represented clients against thousands of crimes and offenses including various weapon crimes. Proetta & Oliver defends individuals throughout New Jersey including Union County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County. If you would like to speak with an attorney concerning the details of your case contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation.
Possession of an Imitation Gun with an Unlawful Purpose
An “imitation firearm” is defined broadly to mean an object or device reasonably capable of being mistaken for a firearm.
Under 2C:39-4(e), any person who has in his possession an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. This subsection was added to prevent the total escape from punishment of those weapons that fail to meet the definition of a “firearm” and may also fail to meet the definition of a “weapon” altogether. On its face, the section seems quite broad, possibly making it a fourth degree for anyone carrying a toy gun on a dark street or through a rough neighborhood. However, the implied culpability element of knowledge serves to help narrow it a little. This is because the defendant must be found to know that an observer would reasonably believe that the object was a firearm, basically meaning that he/she intends to show the object for its threat value. Moreover, it is a separate charge of disorderly persons offense under 2C:39:5(e)(3) to possess any imitation firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds or any school, college, university or other educational institution, without written authorization of the institution, or while on a school bus.
Elements of an Imitation Firearm Crime
In order to be found guilty of possessing an imitation gun for an unlawful purpose, the state must prove several elements. First, the state must show that the object is in fact an imitation firearm. Secondly, the state must exhibit that this was a knowing possession by the defendant. Next, it must be proved that defendant possessed it under circumstances which would lead an observer to reasonably believe that the defendant possessed it for an unlawful purpose. Last, and most importantly, the state must show that defendant knew that an observer would reasonably believe that it was a firearm possessed for an unlawful purpose.
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