If you’re charged with weapons-related crimes in New Jersey, you may be facing a very serious indictable crime. The possession and use of weapons in New Jersey is highly regulated and the law in this area is complex.  Weapons charges vary in severity, and the seriousness of the charge depends on the type of weapon, whether the use was unlawful, and the location of its use.  The team of criminal defense lawyers at the Bianchi Law Group, LLC, can help you understand the severity of the charges you are facing and how to defend against it.

Weapons are Broadly Defined in New Jersey.

It is important to know that “weapons” are broadly defined in New Jersey under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1, and firearms are not the only items prohibited under New Jersey law.  Destructive devices (bombs, mines, or grenades), sawed-off shotguns, knives, daggers, stun guns, brass knuckles, slingshots, blackjacks, and clubs are just some of the other items that can be considered weapons.  N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3.

Possession of a Weapon.

Simply possessing a gun without the requisite license may be a crime.  Possession of a firearm without the required license or permit has varying consequences depending on factors including the type of gun.  For example, possession of a machine gun or a handgun without a license is a more serious second degree crime, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(a),(b), than possession of a rifle or shotgun without having obtained a firearms purchaser identification card under N.J.S.2C:58-3, which is a crime of the third degree.

Possession of a destructive device (a bomb, mine or grenade) or a sawed-off shotgun is also a crime of the third degree.  And possession of knives, daggers, stun guns, brass knuckles, slingshots, blackjacks, and clubs, without any lawful purpose, is a crime of the fourth degree.

Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

The possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, even a legal weapon such as a “paint gun” or slingshot, is a factor in the severity of the offense.  For example, possession of a firearm while in the course of committing or conspiring to commit crimes, including drug crimes, robbery, or an assault, is a serious offense N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, and may be subject to mandatory and/or extended terms of imprisonment under the Graves Act. N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.

Location of the Possession.

The location of the possession or use of a firearm or weapon is also a factor in the severity of the offense.  For example, in most cases, it’s illegal to have a firearm or other type of weapon while on the premises of an educational institution.  N.J.S,A. 2C:39-5(e).

Age of the Person Possessing the Weapon.

Additionally, no person under the age of 18 years is permitted to purchase, barter or otherwise acquire a firearm and no person under the age of 21 years is permitted to purchase, barter or otherwise acquire a handgun, unless otherwise authorized.  N.J.S.A. 2C:58-6.

What Are Some Potential Consequences of Weapons Charges in New Jersey?

The potential consequences for weapons crimes in New Jersey can be severe.  Depending on the nature of the weapons charge and conviction, you could face from 18 months to 10 years or more in prison. You may also face steep fines.

There is No Leniency for First-Time Offenders in Many Cases. 

A strong defense is critical when you’re facing a weapons charge in New Jersey.  In New Jersey the Graves Act imposes mandatory and extended prison sentences for those convicted of weapons charges—even for first-time offenders.  The Act mandates long sentences and ensures that individuals serving prison time for certain weapons-related convictions do not qualify for parole as early as they might with other crimes (or sometimes not at all).

How Will Working with an Experienced Criminal Defense Team Help?

The team of former prosecutors at the Bianchi Law Group, LLC, draw on previous experience and a deep understanding of criminal law in New Jersey to assist those who are facing weapons charges. Some ways an experienced criminal defense team can help include:

Providing context and information about the charges. Being caught within the criminal justice system can be frightening and confusing. Working alongside a confident attorney who can help you understand the charges you are facing helps you find some calm in the storm so you can make educated decisions about your defense.

Creating a defense strategy to support a more positive outcome. Understanding the big picture is critical to developing a defense strategy that is most likely to succeed. An experienced criminal defense team can help you understand all your options and the pros and cons of both as you weigh your strategy.

Acting as an intermediary for you. An experienced lawyer is comfortable speaking to prosecutors and standing up for your rights and freedom in court. This is important whether your strategy is to enter a plea bargain or defend yourself in court at trial.

Don’t face the criminal justice system and potentially serious weapons charges without an experienced team at your side.  If you are facing criminal charges you should immediately reach out to our team of experienced former prosecutors to schedule a free case review with one of our expert criminal defense attorneys. A complete understanding of criminal law by your attorney is crucial to your defense. Your rights and freedoms are in jeopardy, and you owe it to yourself to act. We are available to provide immediate assistance and further counsel on your criminal case at (862) 315-7929.