By now, many residents of New Jersey have heard of the rather high-profile case of an actor charged with gun crimes due to his involvement in a low-budget movie shoot. The actor has vowed to fight the charges despite the fact that he could face serious time in state prison if he is convicted on the weapons charge. Despite this, the actor has received some support from state politicians including Assemblyman Jon Bramnick who stated that “This actor is shooting a movie with no criminal intent whatsoever … Common sense dictates that this guy should not be facing (jail).”
However, he is still currently facing jail time. This matter shows the serious and strict nature of NJ firearms laws that can extend to weapons, like BB guns, that one would potentially not consider as being subject to gun laws. The failure to understand one’s obligations to secure proper licensing can have serious consequences. Therefore, one should always seek the guidance of a criminal defense lawyer before taking any action concerning potential firearms like BB guns or fake guns. The lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are available to answer any questions you may have regarding gun laws. If you’ve already been charged with a weapons crime, we can fight to protect you from the harsh potential penalties available under state law. Call (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How Did the Charges Arise?
The charges arose as part of filming for a movie in Woodbridge, NJ. The actor was apparently playing a bodyguard for a drug dealer in the film. The actors were attempting to depict a car-chase scene in a residential neighborhood. Apparently, the gunplay was a little too real for neighbors as someone called the police.
It appears that the police were alerted to a potentially violent disturbance. According to Bellario when cops responded to the complaint, “They rolled up hot. There was eight of them. They got out. They were all charged up, ‘who’s the guy driving, where’s the guy with the gun?” When Bellario says they rolled up hot, he likely meant that they approached aggressively and potentially with weapons already drawn.
The police may have been justified in their aggressive approach because the producers for the film failed to secure a permit. Similarly, the producers failed to alert the police that they would be filming a car chase scene in the neighborhood. Furthermore, the producers failed to secure a permit for the BB gun.
Bellario states that he did not realize that this actions had not occurred. Furthermore, he said that he didn’t realize the gun was a BB gun and believed that it was simply a prop gun.
Prior Convictions Increases an Individual’s Exposure to Harsh Penalties
Ballario faces up to five years in prison for possessing the unlicensed gun. The reason for the harsh sentence stems partly from his previous convictions that make him subject to New Jersey’s “persons not to have firearms” law. Ballario currently faces up to five years in prison due to the charges against him. However, he could face up to an additional 10 or more years in prison that could be imposed at the court’s discretion.
At a recent plea deal hearing, Ballario was tempted with the offer of potentially being out of prison in six months if he agreed to plead guilty. At the hearing, the Superior Court Judge explained to Bellario that, “Well Mr. [Bellario], this is not your first rodeo. So, you know what’s at stake here. You’re going for the long haul. You lose, (and) you’ll end up in state prison — for an extended period of time. Especially if you have a record.” When asked if he could live with the fact that going to trial presented the risk of a lengthy prison sentence, Bellario nodded his head and the proceedings continued forward. Thus, the actor is taking a big risk, but he apparently must have his own reasons for his steadfast commitment to proceeding to trial and attempting to avoid a new criminal conviction.
Facing Gun Charges in New Jersey?
If you are facing gun or firearms charges in New Jersey for having an unlicensed weapon or an illegal weapon, you could face serious penalties. The New Jersey gun laws are strict and carry potentially draconian penalties. To discuss the potential penalties you can face under the law and possibilities for plea bargains or defense call the strategic and aggressive Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for a free consultation at (609) 616-4956.