The crime of Certain Persons refers to a category of certain individuals, which either from a conviction or mental disorder, are not allowed to possess weapons or firearms. The certain persons offense should not be confused with unlawful possession of weapons because these are separate offenses, and a person can be convicted of both offenses for possession of the same weapon. New Jersey takes these crimes extremely seriously and most are punishable by mandatory incarceration. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the court system and challenge the State’s case against you in an effort to substantially downgrade your charges or even have them dismissed altogether. Founding attorney, William A. Proetta has defended thousands of crimes and charges including many weapons offenses throughout New Jersey including Linden, Union Twp, Scotch Plains, Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle Park, Rahway and Sprinfield. We know what it takes to successfully fight a weapons case in New Jersey. If you would like to learn more about how our firm can help you, contact us today at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons
The conviction of any of the following offenses causes this section to become effective: Aggravated Assault, Arson, Burglary, Escape, Extortion, Homicide, Kidnapping, Robbery, Aggravated Sexual Assault or Sexual Assault, Bias Intimidation, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Possession of a Prohibited Weapon or Prohibited Device or the offense of Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose or the offense of manufacture, transport disposition and defacement of weapons, or conviction of unlawful use or possession or sale of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (excluding a disorderly or petty disorderly substance offense). The conviction does not have to be in New Jersey, in fact our state counts convictions from any state, territory, commonwealth or other jurisdiction of the United States or any country of the world in a court of competent jurisdiction of a crime which in that jurisdiction is comparable to one of the enumerated offenses.
Mental Disorder vs. Convicted Felon
A simple prior conviction of certain felonies bars an individual from obtaining or owning a firearm or weapon. In contrast, in order for the mental disorder to be a bar to the possession of a weapon, the person must have been committed for the mental disorder to any hospital, mental institution or sanitarium. It should be noted that the law does not differentiate between a voluntary or involuntary commitment. Moreover, a person who previously suffered from a mental disorder can be allowed to lawfully purchase and possess weapons and firearms again with a certificate from a medical doctor or licensed psychiatrist licensed stating that the patient has been successfully treated.
It is a crime of the fourth degree for individuals who have been convicted of any felony listed above or who have a diagnosed history of mental disorders to purchase, own, possess or control a weapon. Moreover, the Legislature broadened the Graves Act to encompass these fourth degree certain persons offenses which pertain to weapons other than firearms.
It is a second degree crime to possess a firearm if you have been convicted of any of the specified crimes listed above, with the addition of Stalking and a crime of domestic violence. Upon conviction of this second degree crime, the court must impose a mandatory minimum five year prison term during which time they will be ineligible for parole. In contrast, the second degree offense does not apply to individuals with a history of mental disorders.
What Constitutes a “Weapon”
The most obvious weapons which are encompassed in this statute are firearms. However, there is some ambiguity in interpreting the scope of this section as to what other weapon definitions are in fact included. It has been held that weapon means anything which is readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury. For purposes of this section, when an object is capable of injury, whether innocent or unlawful, the circumstances of its possession may be considered. More particularly the size, shape, and condition of the object, whether it was concealed, and the time, place and actions of the carrier are material circumstances in determining when the particular implement constitutes a weapon.
Certain Person Convicted of Domestic Violence
It is a third degree crime for a person who has been convicted of a disorderly persons offense involving Domestic Violence in New Jersey or elsewhere to purchase, own, possess or control a firearm. The offense is applicable regardless of whether the underlying domestic violence offense involved a weapon. It is also a third degree crime to purchase or possess a firearm if you are undergoing a domestic violence proceeding and your firearms have not been returned or the court has an order prohibiting possession. As mentioned earlier, it is a second degree charge if you are found in possession of a firearm and you have been convicted of a felony crime involving domestic violence. For obvious reasons these charges are often complex and riddled with issues. Often times these cases can be a misunderstanding or simple ignorance of the law. Contact our office today at (908) 838-0150 to speak with a weapons defense attorney free of charge during an initial consultation.