Are You in Violation of New Jersey’s Gun Laws?
New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. They can be quite challenging to understand for people who have just moved to the state, but also for those who have been long-term residents. New Jersey’s gun control laws can be quite difficult to navigate, and you can find yourself facing gun charges without realizing that you were breaking the law. To make matters worse, gun charges are aggressively prosecuted in New Jersey and can carry serious consequences if you are convicted.
If you’ve been charged with a gun offense, you should speak with an experienced gun possession attorney to understand your options. Camden gun possession lawyer Lauren Wimmer can help you face your gun charges and get a fair result. Don’t let the prosecution bully you into pleading guilty – Ms. Wimmer will fight aggressively for your rights from the very first meeting. Call us today at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.
Purchase of a Firearm without a Permit
One of the most common gun charges in New Jersey is the purchase or possession of a firearm without the appropriate permit or license. This applies even to legal firearms, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
NJSA Section 2C:58-3 requires anyone who is purchasing a pistol, shotgun, or rifle to have a “firearms purchaser identification card.” The only exception to this requirement is for antique firearms. And while the statute says that “no person of good character and good repute” shall be denied a permit, it also contains several exceptions:
- People convicted of a crime, particularly domestic violence
- Drug addicts and alcoholics
- Anyone with mental health issues or with a history of mental health issues
- People with certain juvenile convictions
- People subject to a restraining order
- Anyone under the age of 21 who wants to purchase a handgun or under the age of 18 who wants to purchase a shotgun or rifle
There are several other exceptions. If you believe that you have been wrongfully denied a firearms purchaser identification card, you can request a court hearing to appeal the denial. The bottom line is that you cannot legally purchase a firearm in New Jersey without first obtaining a permit.
Possession of a Firearm without a Permit
But what if you already own the firearm? New Jersey law also requires that you have a permit to possess a firearm in certain instances legally.
NJSA 2C:58-4 requires anyone who owns a handgun to possess a permit to carry. One permit is sufficient for multiple handguns – you do not need a permit for each one. However, you should be aware that the permit expires every two years, so again, it’s easy to find yourself in violation of the law inadvertently.
New Jersey does not require you to have a permit to carry for rifles or shotguns. However, you can still face gun charges if you purchased the firearm without a firearms purchaser identification card, even though the purchase happened a long time ago.
Possession of an Illegal Firearm
Another common gun charge in New Jersey is the possession of an illegal firearm. New Jersey law prohibits the possession of certain weapons, including firearm accessories:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- “Defaced” firearms – a firearm that has been altered in any way to render it difficult or impossible to identify
- “Dum dum” bullets or armor-piercing ammunition
Depending on the item in your possession, you could be charged with either a third-degree or fourth-degree crime. As a result, you could face anywhere from 18 months to 5 years in prison if convicted.
In order to be convicted of possessing an illegal firearm, the prosecution must prove that you “knowingly” possessed an illegal weapon. The prosecution will use circumstantial evidence in order to prove that you knew you were breaking the law. An experienced gun possession lawyer can help you defend yourself and avoid conviction.
Persons Prohibited from Owning a Firearm
Certain people are also prohibited from possessing a firearm at all. For example, people under the age of 21 cannot possess a handgun, while someone under the age of 18 cannot possess a rifle or shotgun. In addition, New Jersey also prohibits the following people from possessing certain weapons:
- People with convictions for violent felonies (also referred to as “indictable offenses” in New Jersey)
- People with misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence
- People with a history of mental illness
It’s important to note that these prohibitions apply beyond New Jersey convictions – in other words, you may be prohibited from owning a firearm if you were convicted in another state or even another country.
New Jersey gun charges carry some of the heaviest potential penalties in the country. Most gun offenses in New Jersey are subject to the Graves Act, which imposes minimum prison sentences and parole ineligibility.
Crimes in New Jersey are divided into two main classifications – indictable offenses (felonies) and disorderly persons charges (misdemeanors). Indictable offenses are then divided into four different degrees, with first-degree crimes being the most serious. Generally speaking, gun charges are always indictable offenses in New Jersey. The following are examples of the potential penalties you could face if convicted:
- Possession or purchase of a firearm without the appropriate permit: a second-degree crime punishable by 5-10 years in prison
- Possession of a weapon by a felon: fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison
- Possession of an illegal firearm: third-degree offense punishable by 3-5 years in prison
Keep in mind that the degree of charges and the potential penalties will vary according to the firearm in your possession. Most gun crimes in New Jersey are charged as second-degree crimes, meaning that you face 5 to 10 years in prison. Fortunately, in many cases, the representation of a skilled attorney can mitigate the consequences you are facing and may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed entirely.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Camden Gun Possession Attorney
Gun charges in New Jersey are very serious, and the consequences of a conviction could change your life forever. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution – get a lawyer who will fight for your rights. Camden gun possession lawyer Lauren Wimmer aggressively defends her clients to make sure they get a fair result, and she can use her knowledge and experience to help you successfully face your charges. Contact us today at 215-712-1212 to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.