The statute 2C:39-3 “Certain Weapons and Devices” concerns a class of offenses in which the mere possession of certain weapons, devices, and ammunition constitutes a per se offense. Moreover, this statute also covers certain weapons whose possession is an offense unless the defendant can come forward with an explainable lawful purpose for the possession. Unlike other weapons laws that have to do with licensing or possessing with an unlawful purpose, this law deals with the right to possess certain types of weapons, devices, or ammunition. And the degree of the offense depends on the type of weapon or device. Moreover, a person can be convicted of the offense of possession of a prohibited weapon as well as the offense of Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose or possession of a weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use depending on the particular facts of the case. Like other weapon and firearm related crimes in New Jersey, these charges are often extremely complicated and difficult and normally require the skills of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The firm’s founding attorney, Will Proetta has successfully defended thousands of criminal charges throughout New Jersey including various weapons and firearms cases. If you would like to learn more about how can we help you then contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced weapons defense lawyer.
2C:39-3 Prohibited Weapons and Devices
A list of the prohibited weapons and devices in New Jersey and their degree of crime has been provided below for your convenience.
Destructive Device – It is a crime of the third degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any destructive device. Destructive device is given a broad definition under the Code. A destructive device includes any instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion. An explosive bomb is only one type of destructive device. In order to obtain a conviction for this offense, the state would have to prove that the particular instrument was a destructive device.
Sawed–off Shotgun – It is a crime of the third degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession a sawed-off shotgun. Sawed-off shotgun is defined in terms of barrel size. It means any shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than eighteen inches in length measured from the breach to the muzzle, or any firearm made from a rifle or shotgun, whether by alteration or otherwise if such firearm as modified has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
Firearm Silencer – It is a crime of the fourth degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any firearm silencer. Firearm silencer means any instrument, attachment, weapon or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm to be silent, or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm.
Defaced Firearms – It is a crime of the fourth degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any firearm which has been defaced unless the firearm is an antique firearm or an antique handgun. Defaced firearm means the maker, model designation, manufacturer’s serial number or any other distinguishing identification mark or number on a firearm has been either removed, defaced, covered, altered or destroyed.
Antique firearm –any firearm or handgun which was manufactured before 1898, which is incapable of being fired or discharged, which does not fire fixed ammunition, or cartridge ammunition is not commercially available, and is possessed as a curiosity or ornament for its historical significance or value.
Hollow Nose and Body Armor Penetrating Bullets – Knowing possession of any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet or body armor penetrating bullets is a crime of the fourth degree. Body armor breaching or penetrating ammunition have three characteristics. The ammunition is primarily designed for use in a handgun; the ammunition is comprised of a bullet whose core or jacket, if the jacket is thicker than.025 of an inch, is made of tungsten carbide, or hard bronze, or other material which is harder than a rating of 72 or greater on the Rockwell B Hardness scale and finally the ammunition must be capable of breaching or penetrating body armor.
Stun Gun – It is a fourth degree crime to knowingly have in one’s possession a stun gun. A stun gun is a weapon or other device which emits an electrical charge or current which is intended to temporarily or permanently disable a person.
Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – It is a fourth degree crime to knowingly possess a large capacity ammunition magazine. “Large capacity ammunition magazine” means a box, drum, tube or other container which is capable of holding more than fifteen rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly there from into a semi-automatic firearm. A semi-automatic is a firearm which fires a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger and is self-reloading or automatically chambers a round, cartridge or bullet.
Handcuffs – It is a disorderly persons offense for a person to have in his possession handcuffs under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have. “Handcuffs” mean a device conventionally used for law enforcement purposes that can be tightened and locked about the wrists for the purpose of restraining a person’s movement. There is no offense if the possessor of the handcuffs has an explainable lawful purpose. The state, however, still has the burden of proving that the circumstances were not manifestly appropriate for their lawful use. “Manifestly” is defined as meaning easily understood or recognized by the mind.
Weapons Possessed Without an Explainable Purpose
It is a fourth degree crime to possess certain weapons without an explainable lawful purpose. These prohibited weapons are a gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckles, sandclub, slingshot, cestus, or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood ballistic knife. For this offense the list of weapons is exclusive. Possession of a different type of knife than the listed ones even if dangerous or even if it could be used unlawfully will not be an offense under this section. Unlike the offense of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, for this offense the state need not prove that the defendant had an unlawful purpose. The explainable lawful purpose is an affirmative defense, and the state need not disprove it unless and until there is evidence supporting that defense.
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