Although many weapons and firearms are considered very dangerous, they are often legal to own and carry under the right circumstances. In the past, stun guns and tasers were outlawed in New Jersey. However, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, they are now legal in this state.
Stun guns are often praised as excellent self-defense tools. They are designed to stun rather than kill, making them effective but less dangerous to owners. New Jersey previously banned the possession of stun guns altogether. Still, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in 2016, this law is considered unenforceable.
Even though the law against stun guns is technically unenforceable, it is still on the books. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help if you face charges related to stun guns in NJ. Call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review to get started.
Are Stun Guns Illegal in New Jersey?
Stun guns are legal in New Jersey. However, old laws prohibiting them are still technically on the books. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-3(h), possession of a stun gun may be charged as a fourth-degree crime. A fourth-degree crime can be punished with a prison term of up to 18 months. Under the old law, no permits or licenses would make possessing a stun gun legal in this state, and they were illegal to buy or sell. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that this kind of law runs afoul of the Second Amendment.
Stun guns are different than typical firearms because they operate using electricity. Stun guns are usually small devices that may be no larger than a cell phone. They work by making direct contact with a target before emitting a high voltage shock to incapacitate the target. Stun guns are different than tasers, as tasers work by firing electrified projectiles that stick into the target’s skin and emit a shock. However, both types of weapons are generally referred to as “stun guns” by New Jersey law, and both are legal.
Taser and stun guns can be legally purchased by anyone at least 18 years old. However, persons prohibited from owning weapons or firearms under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-7 might not be able to have these weapons, depending on how the specific device fits into the definition of “deadly weapon” or “firearm.” If you were unjustly charged with possession of a stun gun under the invalidated law, talk to our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers for help.
Does New Jersey’s Ban on Stun Guns Violate My Second Amendment Rights?
As mentioned above, the ban on stun guns in New Jersey might seem odd. If we can own deadly firearms, why are stun guns off-limits? In 2016, the United States Supreme Court encountered a similar question in a case out of Massachusetts.
In the case of Caetano v. Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts’ ban on stun guns, which was very similar to New Jersey’s ban, was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment. Once the ruling was handed down, lawmakers in New Jersey were given time to consider new laws regarding stun guns. These new laws could have involved licenses or permits making stun guns legal.
However, New Jersey has not updated its laws, and the prohibition on stun guns is still on the books. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, New Jersey’s ban on stun guns is legally unenforceable. This means you should not be arrested for having a stun gun or taser, and prosecutors should not be assessing charges for stun guns or tasers. If you are charged for some reason, our defense strategy should invoke the Supreme Court ruling from 2016 and emphasize your Second Amendment rights. Our New Jersey stun gun defense lawyers can help you defend your Second Amendment rights.
Criminal Charges Related to Stun Guns in New Jersey
Besides the unenforceable law that makes stun guns illegal to possess under any circumstances, other criminal violations may pertain to stun guns. Whether or not it is illegal to own or possess a weapon, using a weapon for unlawful activities may be harshly punished.
You could be charged with possessing weapons for unlawful purposes under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4. The law provides penalties for numerous weapons, including standard firearms, explosives, destructive devices, imitation firearms, and other weapons. Using a stun gun for an unlawful purpose, like committing a crime, may be charged as a third-degree crime. You could be sentenced to a prison term of at least 3 years and up to 5 years.
Although the previously discussed law allows criminal charges for using stun guns for unlawful purposes, there is a specific statute pertaining to weapons used in the commission of certain drug offenses. Using a stun gun to commit certain drug offenses is illegal under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4.1(1)(b). You could be charged with a second-degree crime and sentenced to at least 5 years in state prison and up to 10 years.
Also, keep in mind that many crimes face penalty enhancements if a firearm or weapon is used. For example, using a weapon to commit an assault may lead to upgraded charges of aggravated assault. If you are accused of using a stun gun to commit another crime, you should immediately speak with our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys.
Defenses to Criminal Charges for Stun Guns in New Jersey
Since New Jersey’s ban on stun guns is legally unenforceable thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, our defense approach should reiterate the findings of the Court. The ban on stun guns violates your Second Amendment right to bear arms. We can emphasize that stun guns are self-defense tools and legal in most other states. Considering the law is unenforceable, these charges should be dropped.
Other charges may require a different approach. For example, if you are charged with using a stun gun in the commission of a separate crime, like assault or a drug offense, we can attack the elements of your charges and the presence of the stun gun.
Criminal elements will vary from case to case, so it is important to discuss your case with our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys before getting started. However, we can challenge the prosecutor’s evidence regarding how and when the crime allegedly occurred. Similarly, we can challenge their assertions that a stun gun was used. Perhaps you had the stun gun in your possession, but it was not actually used to commit the alleged offense.
One common defense tactic is to suppress any illegally seized evidence. The police must have a valid warrant to search for and seize evidence, including the stun gun in your case. If you believe the stun gun was taken by law enforcement illegally, we can prevent it from being used against you in court. Contact our Haddonfield, NJ criminal defense attorneys to begin strategizing your defense.
Call Our New Jersey Stun Gun Defense Lawyers for Help
If you or someone you know is charged with a crime related to stun gun possession, contact our New Jersey stun gun defense attorneys right away. It is possible the charges in your case are unenforceable. Call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free initial case evaluation.