Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
Monmouth County Unlawful Possession of Weapon Lawyer
New Jersey is well known for its extremely harsh approach when it comes to prosecuting weapon offenses. Pursuant to the Graves Act, a Defendant convicted of certain enumerated weapons offenses will not only be required to serve mandatory prison time but that time will also include a mandatory parole ineligibility period as well. As you will see below, if that wasn’t bad enough, New Jersey has in essence a strict liability policy when it comes to out of state lawful firearm owners caught possessing firearms within the State. If you have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, robbery, burglary, carjacking or aggravated assault in Monmouth County, we can help. The Monmouth County criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver have represented dozens of clients that have been charged with the unlawful possession of a handgun throughout their careers. On numerous occasions we have been able to not only avoided the mandatory incarceration but a criminal record as well. These are extremely serious charges as you can tell and you will need the assistance of an experienced Monmouth County criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys have dedicated our entire careers to defending those accuses of crimes in courts throughout New Jersey, including courts throughout Monmouth County. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys today about your options then please contact us at 732-858-6959.
Need Local Gun Possession Attorney Near Freehold NJ
At Proetta & Oliver we are well aware of what a felony weapons conviction let alone a lengthy jail sentence can do to someone’s life. As such, we take an extreme amount of pride in being very hands on with our clients. We strive to make that no stone is left unturned when it comes to representing our clients. If you would like to come into our Middletown office for a face to face consultation then please contact us at 732.858.6959. We can go over the specifics of your case and formulate a game plan that works best to suit your needs. Our firm serves all of Monmouth County including towns like Holmdel, Howell, Wall Township, Freehold, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Millstone, Aberdeen, Englishtown, Belmar, Neptune, Ocean Township and West Long Branch. As always, our initial consultations are always free. Now here is a breakdown on the unlawful possession of a weapon offense, including what exactly qualifies as a weapon.
What to Know About Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Charges in NJ
It is important to understand that when it comes to an Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Charge involving a handgun, shotgun or riffle, the fact that the individual had a valid permit to purchase or even a permit to carry from another State will be irrelevant. The “innocent owner” defense, meaning that the owner lawfully purchased the weapon in another State and was unaware of New Jersey’s gun laws, will not be considered a valid defense. In order to lawfully possess a firearm in the State of New Jersey, the individual must have first secured a Firearms Identification Card as well as the proper permit prior to the purchase or they must be lawfully transporting an otherwise legally owned firearm from another State in accordance with Federal Law.
What are the Elements of an Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Charge in NJ
Unlawful possession of a weapon is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. It is a rather lengthy statute that is broken down into several sections depending on the weapon which is alleged to have been possessed. Here is a breakdown by potential unlawful weapon:
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5a: Machine Guns:
In essence the State must prove three material elements, that the weapon was in fact a machine gun, that the Defendant knowingly possessed the machine gun and the Defendant did not have a license to possess or carry the machine gun. The most crucial part of this section is determining what qualifies as a machine gun. It has been defined as “any firearm, mechanism or instrument not requiring that the trigger be pressed for each shot and having a reservoir, belt or other means of storing and carrying ammunition which can be loaded into the firearm, mechanism or instrument and fired therefrom”.
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b: Handguns:
The State must prove three material elements, that the weapon was in fact a handgun, that the Defendant knowingly possessed the handgun and the Defendant did not have a permit to possess the handgun. Just as with the unlawful possession of a machine gun, the most important part of this section is determining what qualifies as a handgun. The Legislature has defined a handgun as “any pistol, revolver or other firearm originally designed or manufactured to fire or eject any solid projectile, ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances by the use of a single hand and to eject a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person”.
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5c: Rifles and Shotguns:
The State must prove three material elements, that the weapon was in fact a rifle or a shotgun, that the Defendant knowingly possessed the rifle or shotgun and the Defendant did not have a valid firearms purchaser identification card. Just as with the unlawful possession of a machine gun and handgun section, the most important part of this section is determining what qualifies as a rifle and as a shotgun. The Legislature has defined a rifle as “any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and using the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger” and a shotgun has been defined as “any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and using the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shots or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, or any firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder which does not fire fixed ammunition”.
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d: Other Weapons:
The State must prove three material elements, that the weapon was in fact a weapon as defined by the legislature, that the Defendant knowingly possessed the the weapon and the Defendant’s possession of the weapon was under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use. Just as with the previous sections, the most important part of this section is determining what qualifies as a weapon. The Legislature has defined a weapon as “anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury”. So as you can tell, the term weapon is EXTREMELY broad and could encompass just about anything. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this could create a great angle to attack the State’s proofs.
Mandatory Prison Time if Convicted of Unlawful Possession of Weapon Charge in NJ
The degree of the offense that a Defendant will be charged with, will depend directly on the type of weapon possessed. Here is a complete breakdown.
Machine Guns & Handguns that are not considered an air gun and/or spring gun
- These are second degree felony offenses in New Jersey. If convicted, a Defendant would be facing anywhere between 5 to 10 years in a State Prison. Furthermore, this offense falls under the Graves Act which requires, at a minimum, that the Defendant be sentenced to a five (5) year prison term with a forty-two (42) month parole ineligibility term. In addition, a fine up to $150,000 may be imposed.
Rifles & Shotguns
- These are third degree felony offenses in New Jersey. If convicted, a Defendant would be facing anywhere between 3 to 5 years in a State Prison. Furthermore, this offense falls under the Graves Act as well. So just like with a handgun, the Defendant must be sentenced to a prison term that includes at least a forty-two (42) month parole ineligibility term. In addition, a fine up to $15,000 may be imposed.
Other Weapons pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d
- These are fourth degree felony offenses in New Jersey. If convicted a Defendant would be facing eighteen (18) months in a State Prison. In addition, a fine up to $10,000 may be imposed.
How Does the Grave Act work in Monmouth County?
The Graves Act is what makes this such an extremely tough statute to deal with. Pursuant to the Graves Act, anyone convicted of one of the acts enumerated offenses must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment and that term must have a parole ineligibility period equal to 1/2 of the overall sentence or three and half years, whichever is greater. In other words, a conviction for a typical Graves Act offense means that the individual will be required to be incarcerated for a minimum of 3 1/2 years. With that being said, there are motions that can be filed and if a Graves Act Waiver is granted, the individual could either see their prison time and parole ineligibility term completely eliminated or at least reduced. To discuss your options please contact us directly at (732)858-6959.
Need to Consult with a Handgun Possession Lawyer in Asbury Park
As you can tell the applicable penalties if convicted of any of the aforementioned offenses are life changing. These offenses are extremely serious and require the assistance of an experienced New Jersey weapons defense attorney. This section of the statute can be rather confusing at times and as such should not be taken lightly. If you have been arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, certain persons, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose or any other weapons offense, the Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver can help. Mr. Oliver has successfully handled countless weapons offenses throughout his career. To schedule a free initial consultation today please contact us at (732)858-6959. We serve all of Monmouth County, including towns like Matawan, Little Silver, Eatontown, Tinton Falls, Red Bank, Manalapan, Marlboro, Farmingdale, Oceanport and Colts Neck.