Can You Go to Jail for Gun Possession in NJ?

New Jersey’s gun laws are stricter than most states. These laws prevent anyone who does not have a license from owning a gun or carrying it outside their home. If you do have a gun license, it is often related to your job or a specific, identifiable safety risk. Everyone else is banned from having a gun, or else faces the consequences of violating these laws. If you or a loved one was arrested for a gun possession crime in New Jersey, contact the Atlantic City weapons crimes lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free consultation on your charges.

Penalties for Gun Possession Crimes in New Jersey

Different crimes are classified under various levels of crime in New Jersey. The two primary levels of crime are “indictable crimes” (often shortened to “crimes”) and “disorderly persons offenses,” which roughly equate to the “felony” and “misdemeanor” classifications used in the federal system and in other states. New Jersey further breaks down these crimes into different levels, with 4 levels of crimes and two levels of disorderly persons offenses: “disorderly persons offenses” and “petty disorderly persons offenses.”

Disorderly persons offenses are lower level crimes carrying a maximum of 6 months in jail. Petty disorderly persons offenses are often reduced to only 30 days in jail but may still carry the potential of a full 6-month sentence. They also carry fines, with petty offenses carrying a $500 maximum and full disorderly persons offenses carrying a $1,000 maximum.

Most gun crimes fall into the “crime” category. Gun possession charges are divided into first through fourth “degree” crimes, with first degree crimes being the worst. These crimes carry the following potential penalties:

  • First degree crimes: 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000
  • Second degree crimes: 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000
  • Third degree crimes: 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000
  • Fourth degree crimes: up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000

Most gun crimes are classified as crimes, not disorderly persons offenses – particularly second degree crimes. This degree covers possession of handguns and machine guns.

Many less dangerous or harder to conceal guns lead to third degree crimes. This includes possession of rifles and shotguns. Long guns like this often produce greater injuries, but are commonly owned for hunting and recreation, and are harder to conceal. In addition, spring guns, air guns, and BB guns are often third degree crimes.

Possession of any other gun is usually a fourth degree crime.

What this means is that illegal possession of nearly any gun can mean over a year in prison, if convicted.

Atlantic City Weapons Crime Defense Lawyers

New Jersey Gun Crime Defense

Protecting yourself from gun crimes is about knowledge, proper licensing, and strategic criminal defense. Avoiding arrests and charges is the best way to keep yourself out of jail. This means having a full grasp of what is legal in NJ and doing the best to keep yourself on the right side of the law. If that fails, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you stay out of jail if you are facing charges.

New Jersey’s gun laws allow legal gun ownership only in very limited situations. First, you must have a state-issued permit to purchase a gun in the first place. Further, you must have a permit to carry the gun outside your home. If you have a permit, you can carry the gun open or concealed. Getting a permit in the first place requires showing some articulable need for the gun, such as active threats against your safety or use as part of your job.

New Jersey also has an assault weapons ban, meaning that “military style” weapons are illegal. The news often focuses on guns like the AR-15 and weapons of similar design when discussing “assault weapons.” In New Jersey, all guns of this style are banned, even with a permit.

If you have a properly issued license, you should be able to own and carry a gun according to the terms of the license. However, it is still important to understand the extent of your license, and whether it allows gun ownership in the home or carrying the gun outside your home.

Lastly, if you are arrested for gun possession, there may be certain ways to challenge the charges. Having a gun near you, but not physically in your hand may lead to challenges based on “constructive possession,” where the police must prove you knew the gun was there and had access to it before convicting you of possession. Also, your attorney may be able to challenge the charges or argue for reduced sentencing based on various strategies.

Atlantic City Gun Possession Lawyer

If you are considering owning a gun in New Jersey, talk to an attorney to understand whether you are legally able to own a gun, and what your permit would allow you to do. If you do run into gun possession issues, talk to an attorney about challenging the charges against you. An Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych can represent those charged with crimes throughout South Jersey and the rest of the state. For a free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.


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