The laws under this statute relating to the possession and carrying of weapons apply to residents and non-residents of New Jersey. A non-resident who acquired a rifle or shotgun in another state and who is traveling through the state of New Jersey must comply with New Jersey laws relating to the transporting of weapons. In fact, a large portion of the cases we handle involve out-of-state residents who legally purchased firearms in another state and unknowingly brought them into New Jersey illegally. It goes without saying that these charges are serious and can be very complicated to litigate. An experienced weapons defense attorney can help mitigate these charges to result in a substantial downgrade or even a dismissal altogether. At the Proetta & Oliver we have successfully defended thousands of crimes and charges throughout New Jersey including unlawful possession of a weapon. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Penalties for Unlawful Possession of Firearms
Machine Guns – Any person who knowingly has in his possession a machine gun or instrument or device adaptable for use as a machine gun without being licensed is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
Handguns – Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including an antique handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry same is guilty of a crime of the second degree. However, if the gun is in the nature of an air gun or pellet pistol then the crime is of the third degree.
***A conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun is a Graves Act offense, effective January 13, 2008, and requires a mandatory period of parole ineligibility, unless the firearm is considered a BB gun.
Rifles or Shotguns – Any person who knowingly has in her possession any rifle or shotgun without first having obtained a firearms purchaser identification card is guilty of a crime of the third degree. The purchaser identification card also must be obtained to acquire a rifle or shotgun. The same card is used for both the acquisition and possession. In contrast, a permit to purchase is required to acquire a handgun, and a separate permit is required to carry the handgun.
“Weapon” – means anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury. This includes gravity knives, switchblade knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos, or other dangerous knives, billies, blackjacks, bludgeons, metal knuckles, sandclubs, slingshots, cestis or similar leather bands studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, stun guns and any other weapon which projects, releases or emits tear gas or any other substance intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air.
Other ProhibitedWeapons – It is a fourth degree crime to possess any weapon without a lawful purpose.
Weapons on School Property – Irrespective of whether the defendant has a permit to carry a firearm or a valid firearm purchaser identification card, it is a crime of the third degree to possess a firearm in or upon any part of the building or grounds of any school, college, or university dormitory room and it could be a disorderly persons offense to even possess an imitation firearm. It is a fourth degree crime to knowingly possess any other weapon on school grounds.
Mandatory Prison Exposure for Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
Claim of Self Defense – This is a valid defense to a charge of possession of a weapon without a permit only in those rare and momentary circumstances where an individual arms himself spontaneously to meet an immediate danger. This defense is not available when a person arms himself prior to a danger becoming imminent.
The Graves Act makes simple possession of certain weapons a crime punishable by a mandatory term of parole ineligibility in state prison. Some of these crimes include unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun, possession of a defaced firearm, unlawful possession of a machine gun, unlawful possession of a handgun, and unlawful possession of rifles and shotguns. With the exception of unlawful possession of a machine gun or handgun, these offenses are third and fourth degree crimes, but because they fall under the Graves Act, they no longer have the presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help navigate the pitfalls of the court system and state’s prosecution. For instance, under certain circumstances we can petition the County Prosecutor to waive the Graves Act and therefore avoid mandatory incarceration altogether. If you would like to learn more about potential representation contact us today at (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced gun defense lawyer.
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