New Jersey is known for having some of the nation’s strictest gun laws. If you are accused of possessing a gun for unlawful reasons in New Jersey, you can face high fines, probation, and even jail time. You may also lose your gun rights, along with your driver’s license and other privileges. It is in your best interests to consult with an experienced weapons crimes attorney, like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. With decades of combined legal experience, our skilled and seasoned legal team is here to fight for you. To speak confidentially with our Atlantic City firearm possession lawyers in a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956, or contact us online today. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide assistance with gun charges in Atlantic City.
What is Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4?
New Jersey’s criminal code sets forth various regulations that control the purchase, possession, and use of firearms. Possession of weapons for an unlawful purpose, including firearms, is prohibited by N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4. In addition to firearms, N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4 also prohibits the possession of “explosives,” “destructive devices,” and “other weapons,” including fake guns (“imitation firearms”). Under state law, New Jersey legally defines the term “firearms” to broadly include all of the following:
- Assault Weapons
- Automatic Weapons
- Machine Guns
- Semiautomatic Weapons
The statute bans having any type of firearm in your possession if your intent is “to use it unlawfully” against people or their property, such as robbing, burglarizing, or assaulting a pedestrian or homeowner. Due to the complexities of New Jersey’s gun laws, confusion around the lawful and legitimate possession of weapons can lead to unwarranted criminal charges. Make sure you have an attorney to protect your rights and ensure that evidence is handled properly in your case.
Is Unlawful Possession of a Weapon a Felony?
Most states label serious crimes “felonies” and call lesser offenses “misdemeanors.” In New Jersey, the terminology is different. New Jersey calls misdemeanors “disorderly persons offenses” or “petty disorderly persons offenses,” depending on their severity. Felonies are called “indictable crimes,” or merely “crimes.”
There are four types of crimes in New Jersey: fourth degree crimes (fourth degree felonies), third degree crimes (third degree felonies), second degree crimes (second degree felonies), and first degree crimes (first degree felonies). Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4(a)(1), possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose is a second degree crime – one of the most serious types of offenses that a person can be charged with in the state of New Jersey.
Illegal Possession of a Gun or Weapon in a Casino
Keep in mind that a casino is a private location with its own rules and regulations. Some casinos may have rules that ban you from bringing any weapons into the building. This could mean that any concealed or openly carried weapons, whether they are legal or not, could be banned from a casino. You can face charges for weapon possession if police are involved, but you could face additional charges as well.
If you are caught on the premises with any dangerous items or weapons, they may be confiscated, and you may be asked to leave. Your admission to the casino may mean agreeing to certain rules, such as those rules against weapons and rules allowing the casino to seize any weapons you do bring inside.
In New Jersey, there are multiple statutes that deal with illegal weapon possession. N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-5 makes it illegal to have a gun in your possession without proper licensing. In addition, § 2C:39-3 lists weapons that are always prohibited.
In New Jersey, it is difficult to get a license to carry a gun. Many visitors to Atlantic City are from out of state and may have carry permits or gun ownership permits from their home state. New Jersey’s laws are more strict than many other states, and a permit from your home state may not allow you to open carry or concealed carry in New Jersey.
Aside from handguns, shotguns, and rifles, it is also illegal to possess other kinds of firearms. New Jersey does not typically give permits for machine guns, and they never give permits for sawed-off shotguns or other illegal weapons. It is always illegal to possess sawed-off shotguns, defaced firearms, silencers, armor piercing rounds, and other illegal firearms and equipment.
Other weapons are also illegal in New Jersey, particularly weapons used only for offensive uses and harming others. This includes the following weapons, in addition to other illegal weapons:
- Brass knuckles
- Certain weapons with embedded razor blades
It may be permissible to carry some small knives, such as a pocket knife or utility knife, but any knife that opens with a button press will likely be considered an illegal switchblade.
If you are asked to leave a casino because you brought in a weapon, you must leave the area. Since casinos are private property, the security staff is authorized to kick people out. Continuing to stay on the property after you have been asked to leave could be considered trespassing and can lead to the police being called and an arrest being made.
If you continue to fight against casino staff or police trying to escort you from the premises, you could be charged with assault, disorderly conduct for fighting, or other offenses. Against police officers, these charges could be increased to resisting arrest or obstruction of justice.
Gun Possession Penalties in Atlantic County
Both crimes (felonies) and disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) can have serious consequences, including jail time and expensive fines. An arrest or conviction will also give you a criminal record, which can interfere with job searches, loan applications, and housing applications long after your case has ended.
Possession of firearms for an unlawful purpose is a crime of the second degree. The maximum sentence for a second degree crime in New Jersey is generally 10 years in prison. In addition, there is a maximum fine of $150,000 for crimes of the second degree. However, this fine can increase in certain cases involving drug-related charges.
Offenses involving the possession of other types of weapons may be categorized differently. For example, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4(e), it is a fourth degree crime to be in unlawful possession of imitation firearms, subject to maximum penalties of $10,000 and 18 months in prison. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4(d), possession of uncategorized or “other” weapons is a third degree crime, subject to maximum penalties of $15,000 and five years in prison.
Like possession of a firearm, the possession of explosives or destructive devices is a second degree crime, as is possession of a “community gun,” defined under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4(a)(2) as “a firearm that is transferred among, [or] between… two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.” Punishments for a second degree felony in New Jersey include up to 10 years in prison and fines as great as $150,000, as stated above.
Atlantic City Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes Attorney
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was arrested for possessing a firearm or other weapons illegally in New Jersey, you should contact a weapons possession attorney right away for help. The Atlantic City gun crime lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are standing by to provide the dedicated assistance you need. To arrange a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych online right away, our call our law offices at (609) 616-4956.