New Jersey’s weapons possession laws are strict compared to some of its neighboring states and other states across the country. Not only do you need a license to purchase a firearm in NJ but you also typically need a good reason to justify having a license in the first place. Because of this, there are dozens of ways to violate weapons possession laws in Gloucester City.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a weapons possession crime in Gloucester City, contact The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our weapons possession defense attorneys represent clients in South Jersey in their criminal cases and fight to get charges dropped and reduced. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Weapons Carry Laws in New Jersey
In limited situations, it is legal to carry a gun in New Jersey. However, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4, it is never legal to have a weapon for use in the commission of a crime. This means that having a gun, which may otherwise be legal, is illegal if you plan to use it as part of a robbery or another crime.
New Jersey requires a permit to purchase firearms. These permits are extremely limited, and require some “urgent necessity for self-protection.” This means that gun permits are usually issued only to law enforcement and some security personnel (e.g. armored car drivers). The local chief of police and a judge both need to approve an application for a handgun, and both of them may legally deny your application. Buying a gun without this permit is illegal, but with a permit, both open carry and concealed carry are legal.
Some guns are outright illegal in New Jersey, even with a permit. First, the State has a full ban on machine guns. This means any gun that will continue to fire as long as the trigger is held is outright banned. Additionally, there is an “assault weapons” ban which makes it illegal to buy any military-style firearms. NJ’s statute lists specific makes and models of firearms, such as certain military rifles, shotguns, and Uzi-type sub-machine guns, but also bans any weapons “substantially identical” to the listed guns, certain semi-automatic shotguns, and rifles with magazine capacities over 15 rounds. This means that there is also a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Lastly, certain people cannot possess weapons. Even someone person has a permit or would have been allowed to carry a firearm, other New Jersey laws ban those who have been convicted of certain crimes from owning weapons. In additional, low-level domestic violence offenses block your access to guns, even if you did not use a weapon during that incident.
Penalties for Weapons Crimes in New Jersey
Possessing a weapon without a license is the basic weapons crime in New Jersey. Since most people cannot legally own a gun, this is the most likely crime to be charged for weapons possession. In the case of machine gun possession or handgun possession, this is a second degree crime. For a rifle, shotgun, or even a spring-loaded or compressed air gun (e.g. a BB gun or airsoft gun), it is a third degree crime. Possession of any other weapon “under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have” is a fourth degree crime.
Possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose, i.e. to commit a crime, is usually a second degree crime. This includes any possession of a firearm “to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.” It also includes possessing or transferring a shared gun used for crimes or possessing any explosives or “destructive devices.” Any other weapon, possessed for a criminal purpose, (e.g. a knife) is a third degree crime, and possession of an imitation firearm is a fourth degree crime.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-7 lists various crimes and situations that make it illegal to later own a gun. Depending on the situation and the crime previously committed, this crime is either a second or fourth degree crime. If the crime was a disorderly persons offense (the lowest level of offense) involving domestic violence, possessing a firearm is a third degree crime.
These weapons crimes range in severity from fourth degree crimes up to second degree crimes. In New Jersey, these crimes are typically punished as follows:
- Second degree crimes carry 5-10 years in prison with fines up to $150,000,
- Third degree crimes carry 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000, and
- Fourth degree crimes carry up to 18 months in prison with fines up to $10,000.
Many of these weapons crimes have penalties that include a minimum amount of jail time, during which you are not eligible for parole or early release, so talk to an attorney about your charges.
Our Gloucester City, NJ Weapons Crime Lawyers May be Able to Help
If you or a loved one is facing weapons crime charges, talk to an attorney today. The Gloucester City weapon possession defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to take your case and fight to get charges dropped or reduced, lower your sentence, or beat the charges against you at trial. For a free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.