What You Need to Know About Weapons and Firearms Charges in Camden County, New Jersey
New Jersey has some of the strictest and most complicated gun laws in the country. Many of the people charged with weapons crimes weren’t even aware that they were doing anything illegal. In fact, what they were doing may have been perfectly legal in another state but illegal in New Jersey. If you are charged with a crime involving a weapon, you face serious consequences and penalties such as prison, probation, thousands of dollars in fines, and a criminal conviction on your permanent record.
A Camden County criminal defense attorney can help you fight and beat your weapons or firearms charges. To discuss your case and how we can help, call us today at 215-712-1212 for a free consultation.
Guns and Weapons Under New Jersey Law
Before discussing the potential criminal charge(s) you face if arrested for illegal possession of a firearm or weapon, it is helpful to understand that the State of New Jersey broadly categorizes firearms and weapons. In addition to what might be commonly considered a “firearm,” New Jersey also includes “without limitation” air rifles, air pistols, or any gun that can fire a projectile “with sufficient force to injure a person.”
New Jersey’s definition of “weapon” is arguably even broader – it includes “anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury.” This would include the following:
- Brass knuckles
- Any kind of knife or blade
- Any type of club or bludgeon
- Components of a weapon that can be easily assembled
Possible Weapons Charges You May Face in Camden County, New Jersey
Because New Jersey has taken such an aggressive stance against weapons-related crimes, you can be charged in New Jersey for something that would be perfectly legal in another state. This includes:
- Possession of a gun without a license or permit – In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess a firearm without the appropriate license or permit. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t doing anything else illegal or planning to commit a crime. Simply possessing a firearm without a permit is illegal in New Jersey. This is the case even if you are only visiting or traveling through the state.
- Possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes – It is illegal to possess any weapon as part of a plan to commit a crime. For example, the police may charge you with possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes if they believe that you purchased a knife in order to attack someone.
- Persons prohibited from owning a weapon – Certain people are prohibited from owning weapons in New Jersey, particularly guns. These people include those who have prior convictions for violent crimes or domestic abuse charges, and those who have been committed to a mental health institution.
- Possession of illegal weapons – Similar to possessing a firearm without a permit or license, certain weapons are illegal in New Jersey, and you could be charged with a crime simply by being in possession of one. Such weapons include: sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, switchblade knives, silencers for firearms, explosive devices, and any firearm where the serial number has been filed off or otherwise removed.
- Possession of a weapon while committing a crime. If you are arrested for committing a crime and have a weapon in your possession, you will be charged with a separate weapons charge. This charge could take place even if you didn’t use the weapon while committing the crime. For example, if you were arrested for committing a robbery and the police found a knife in your possession, you could additionally be charged with possession of a weapon while committing a crime, even though you did not brandish the knife or threaten to use it.
A single illegal incident could result in multiple weapons charges. If you’re facing a gun or weapons charge, a Camden County, New Jersey weapons crime attorney can help you navigate the criminal process and get a fair result.
The Potential Consequences of a Firearms or Weapons Conviction
Weapons charges in New Jersey are serious offenses that carry severe penalties. New Jersey has four degrees of potential weapons charges, and the severity of your charges will depend on the circumstances of the alleged crime and the type of weapon involved. For example, owning an air pistol, handgun, rifle, or shotgun without a permit is a third degree crime that carries a potential prison sentence of three to five years. Possessing a machine gun, on the other hand, is a second degree crime that carries a prison sentence between five and 10 years. Possessing any firearm for an unlawful purpose is also a second degree crime.
Here are the penalties you face for each category of weapons charges:
First degree crimes, such as armed robbery or kidnapping:
- Punishable by 10 – 20 years in prison
- Court may impose up to $200,000 in fines
Second degree crimes:
- Punishable by 5 – 10 years in prison
- Court may impose up to $150,000 in fines
Third degree crimes:
- Punishable by 3 – 5 years in prison
- Court may impose up to $15,000 in fines
- Fourth degree crimes:
- Punishable by up to 18 months in prison
- Court may impose up to $10,000 in fines
Most weapons charges involving guns are second or third degree crimes, whereas charges involving air rifles, air pistols, knives, and other weapons are third or fourth degree crimes.
When discussing the potential penalties of a weapons charge, it’s important to note that the Graves Act plays a significant role when it comes to firearms. The Graves Act is a New Jersey statute that imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences and places restrictions on parole eligibility for anyone convicted of a weapons charge involving a firearm.
Call a Camden County, New Jersey Weapons Charge Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a weapons crime, your future may be at stake. In addition to spending years in prison and paying thousands of dollars in fines, a conviction could make it difficult to find employment, a place to live, or qualify for other public benefits. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the prosecution. Camden County weapons charge lawyer Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights and a fair result. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to discuss your charges, contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 today.