Weapons and firearms are entangled in a complex web of laws and restrictions. While we have a Constitutional right to bear arms, this right is not unlimited. Certain kinds of weapons cannot be carried, even for self-defense.
Firearms like handguns may be carried for self-defense if the owner has a valid permit. For certain kinds of firearms, like machine guns or assault weapons, a judge must grant a special permit. Other weapons are illegal to carry openly but might be used for self-defense on private property, like in your home. Still, some weapons and firearms are completely banned and cannot be carried under any circumstances, even in self-defense. People with certain convictions on their record or other disqualifying characteristics may be banned from carrying any weapons, even those that may be legally carried for self-defense. Violations of these laws may lead to dire consequences.
If you are thinking of purchasing a weapon or have been charged with illegally carrying a weapon, our Brigatine weapons charges defense lawyers can offer you guidance and advice. For a free review of your case, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Weapons You Can Legally Carry for Self-Defense in New Jersey
Generally, people in New Jersey may carry firearms like handguns for self-defense if they have the proper permits. The firearm must have also been purchased through legal means. Otherwise, the possession becomes illegal. Other firearms, including machine guns and assault weapons, can also be legally purchased, but you must get special permits from a judge. These firearms cannot be openly carried but may still provide valuable self-defense inside your home.
You may carry more than firearms for self-defense purposes. Various weapons that are not firearms can be legal tools for self-defense. For example, pepper spray and mace are common self-defense tools in New Jersey and may be freely purchased and carried without a permit. Other weapons, like switchblades, blackjacks, and brass knuckles, are prohibited.
It is important to note that these weapons may be carried for self-defense because that is a legal and valid reason for the weapon. Carrying the weapon for a different reason might not be lawful, and you can be criminally charged under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4 for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The line between self-defense and unlawful purposes is sometimes blurred, but our Cape May weapons charges defense attorneys can help clarify the circumstances of your case.
Illegal Weapons for Self-Defense in New Jersey
Other kinds of weapons are illegal, no matter what. A list of prohibited weapons can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-3. The list includes firearms, destructive devices, and other dangerous weapons. Some of the banned weapons that can not be carried, not even for self-defense, include the following:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Defaced firearms
- Brass or metal knuckles
Not only are certain weapons completely banned, but so are some weapons and firearm accessories. For example, silencers cannot be lawfully equipped to guns, and ammunition designed to pierce body armor is always illegal.
Unlawful possession of weapons may be criminally charged under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-5. The exact nature of the charges might depend on what kind of weapon was unlawfully possessed. The illegal possession of a machine gun may be a second-degree indictable crime (similar to a felony in other states). Although handguns can be lawfully carried for self-defense, failure to obtain a handgun through legal means may also lead to second-degree crime charges.
If you believe you have been unfairly charged with carrying a prohibited weapon or a legal weapon with an unlawful purpose, our Glouchester weapons charges defense attorneys can help you assert your rights and hopefully avoid harsh penalties.
People Who Can and Cannot Carry Weapons for Self-Defense in New Jersey
Certain people may be prohibited from having any weapons or ammunition under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-7. Under this law, it does not matter if the weapons were legal, and all legal protocols were adhered to. A person prohibited from carrying weapons and firearms will be criminally charged no matter what. Our South Jersey weapons charges defense lawyers can help you determine if you are prohibited or eligible for weapon ownership.
Under the law, people with certain convictions on their criminal records may be prohibited from carrying weapons, even for self-defense purposes. Generally, anyone convicted of violent indictable crimes may face criminal charges. Depending on your background and the circumstances of your case, you may face charges as high as second-degree crimes.
You may also be prohibited from carrying weapons, even for self-defense, if you were convicted of a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence acts. Disorderly persons offenses are typically less serious than indictable crimes, but any offense involving domestic violence may bar you from carrying or owning a weapon.
What Happens if I Used a Weapon for Self-Defense but Was Still Criminally Charged in New Jersey?
Self-defense is not always a clear-cut situation. In fact, many instances of self-defense walk a think line between lawful and unlawful. There are laws limiting your self-defense options, and using a weapon or firearm to protect yourself may quickly go awry. If you have been charged with a crime even though you believe your self-defense was lawful, our New Jersey weapons charges defense attorneys can help you fight your charges.
While self-defense is a valid excuse for certain kinds of violent behavior, some lines should not be crossed. Generally, you should not be using deadly force to defend yourself unless your assailant is also using deadly force. Your method of self-defense should be somewhat proportional to the attack. Additionally, deadly force can only be used to protect people, not property.
If you used a legally purchased weapon in self-defense, but that act of self-defense is deemed unlawful or unreasonable, you can still be criminally prosecuted. Our Atlantic City weapons charges defense attorneys can argue that your use of the weapon in self-defense was valid and reasonable under the circumstances.
Contact Our New Jersey Weapons Charges Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged for using a weapon, our New Jersey weapons charges defense attorneys can help you prove your actions were in self-defense. For a free case review, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.