The laws surrounding firearms, who may possess them, and when they are prohibited are somewhat murky. While most people understand that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution grants us the right to own guns, many people do not realize that gun ownership and possession are highly regulated and severely limited in certain circumstances. If you are carrying a weapon in a way that does not conform with the law, you may be charged with unlawful gun possession.
Guns are incredibly dangerous weapons, so the state has a great interest in regulating gun ownership and restricting how you can obtain a firearm. Purchasing a gun must be done through specific legal channels. Buying it from a friend or neighbor at a yard sale may not be legal. You do not necessarily have to use a gun to be charged with unlawful possession, so these charges often take people by surprise. Before buying a gun, you should speak with an attorney about gun control regulations to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. The penalties for unlawful gun possession can be very steep.
If you were charged with unlawful possession of a gun in Atlantic City, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. Criminal charges that involve deadly weapons are often harshly punished and met with minimal sympathy from a judge. Call our Atlantic City gun possession defense attorneys for help. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.
Gun Possession Charges in Atlantic City
There is more than one way to be charged for illegal or unlawful possession of a gun. Firearms are not inherently illegal, and many people own and carry guns with lawful permits. However, failing to acquire the necessary permits or going through illicit channels to get the weapon may result in criminal charges. Similarly, it may be illegal to possess a gun for an unlawful purpose. Finally, certain firearms are never legal to own, and certain people may be barred from owning any firearm. Our Atlantic City gun possession defense attorneys can help you get to the bottom of your charges.
Unlawful Possession of Weapons
Charges for the unlawful possession of a weapon will vary depending on what kind of weapon you have. For example, possession of a handgun without a permit to carry may be charged as a second-degree crime. However, possession of a rifle or shotgun without having a firearms purchaser identification card may be charged as a third-degree crime. Unlawful possession of an assault weapon may be charged as a second-degree crime. Additionally, whether the gun is loaded or not may affect the charges.
You may also be charged if you possess a gun in a prohibited location. For example, you may have a legal permit to carry a handgun, but it is illegal to carry your gun on a school or college campus without written permission from the school.
Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes
It is possible to be charged for possession of a gun that you lawfully own and carry if you intend to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose. Most often, this means using the gun as part of a crime. Possessing a gun with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person or their property may be charged as a second-degree crime.
You may also be charged with a second-degree crime for possessing, receiving, or transferring a community gun. Such a gun is passed between members of a group to further criminal activities. While the charges are still second-degree crimes, the penalties will include a mandatory minimum sentence that is at least one-half the total sentence or three years, whichever is more.
Possession of Prohibited Weapons
Some kinds of firearms or firearm accessories are entirely forbidden and are always unlawful to possess. These firearms or accessories are often very dangerous and have no legitimate purpose. In most cases, these items make committing crimes easier or more dangerous.
Prohibited firearms include destructive devices, sawed-off shotguns, silencers, defaced firearms, switchblades, and armor-piercing ammunition. However, exceptions are made for people in the military or members of law enforcement.
Possession of Guns by Prohibited Persons
The possession of legal firearms in a lawful manner may still be illegal for specific types of people. These people are barred from owning any weapons or firearms at all. In most cases, a person is prohibited from owning a gun if previously convicted of a certain crime. For example, people convicted of aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, or sexual assault may be barred from gun ownership. Speak with our Atlantic City gun possession defense attorneys about how your past criminal convictions may affect your right to own and carry a gun.
A person may also be barred from owning or carrying a firearm if they were previously committed to a hospital or institution for a mental disorder. However, a person may get around this rule if a doctor certifies that they are mentally healthy enough to possess a firearm.
Defenses to Charges for Gun Possession in Atlantic City
Because there are so many ways a person may be charged for possession of a gun, there are many different defenses. To get an idea of what your best defense may be, speak with our Atlantic City gun possession defense lawyers right away.
You may be able to defend yourself against charges for unlawful possession of a gun if you can demonstrate that you were properly licensed to own and carry the firearm. However, if it is illegal for you to have this firearm at all, you may have to take a different approach.
Possession charges often require that the defendant possess the gun knowingly. If you can show that you were unaware the gun was in your possession, you can fight the charges. This kind of defense may come up if the gun belongs to a friend or family member who, unbeknownst to you, stashes the weapon in your home or vehicle. Speak with our Atlantic City gun possession defense lawyer for help fighting your charges.
Contact Our Atlantic City Gun Possession Defense Lawyers for a Private Consultation
If you were charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm, you need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. The exact nature of your charges will depend on the reason the possession was illegal and the type of firearm. Contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956 to arrange a private and free legal consultation with our staff.