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Can I Be Sentenced to Prison for Firearm or Weapon Possession in New Jersey?

May 31, 2018 | Posted In Criminal Law |

In New Jersey, simply possessing a firearm can lead to criminal charges carrying the potential for substantial fines and long-term imprisonment. The same is true for certain other types of weapons as well. Under Section 2C:39-5 and other provisions of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, individuals arrested for possession of firearms and other weapons can be charged regardless of whether or not they were involved in any other criminal activity, and possessing a weapon during the commission of a crime can trigger an additional charge carrying additional fines and prison time.

New Jersey Gun Possession Laws

While certain types of weapons are completely banned in New Jersey, the law allows for possession of many types of firearms with the appropriate license or permit. Unlicensed and unpermitted possession are considered unlawful possession in most (but not all) circumstances under Section 2C:39-5. Some of New Jersey’s penalties for unlawful possession of firearms include:

  • Knowing possession of a machine gun without a license is a second-degree indictable offense carrying up to a $150,000 fine and five to 10 years of imprisonment.
  • Knowing possession of a handgun without a carrying permit is also a second-degree indictable offense unless the propelling force of the gun is “spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air,” in which case possession without a carrying permit is a third-degree indictable offense. Third-degree indictable offenses are punishable by up to a $15,000 fine and three to five years of imprisonment.
  • Knowing possession of a rifle or shotgun without a firearms purchaser identification card is a third-degree indictable offense.
  • Knowing possession of a loaded rifle or shotgun is a third-degree indictable offense.
  • Knowing possession of an operable assault firearm without a license is a second-degree indictable offense.

Additionally, even possession of a firearm with the appropriate license or permit can constitute a criminal offense in New Jersey if the possessor has “a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.” Possession for unlawful purposes is a second-degree indictable offense under Section 2C:39-4.

It is also important to note that even if a person is licensed to have or carry a firearm in another state, that individual cannot have a firearm in New Jersey without a New Jersey permit. To be clear, a person who is licensed to have a firearm in 40 other states and is in possession of a firearm in New Jersey without a New Jersey permit is guilty of having a gun without a permit and faces a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a minimum of 3 ½ years without parole, unless the prosecutor agrees to a less severe sentence.

Prohibited Weapons in New Jersey

Section 2C:39-3 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice flatly prohibits possession of certain types of weapons. For example, in New Jersey it is unlawful to knowingly possess:

  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Firearm silencers
  • Defaced firearms (other than antiques)
  • Gravity knives
  • Switchblade knifes
  • Slingshots
  • Ballistic knives

Importantly, there are some exceptions. For example, it is permissible to possess the knives listed above if you have an “explainable lawful purpose.” The law also includes limited exceptions for law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces. However, if no exceptions apply, unlawful possession of these and other weapons can be prosecuted as a third- or fourth-degree indictable offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of five years or eighteen months.

Contact an Aggressive New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Today  

If you are facing a weapons charge in New Jersey, it is important that you discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey criminal lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 1-877-435-6371 or contact us online today.

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