3 Unexpected Ways You Could Face a Weapons Charge
New Jersey has some of the toughest gun crime laws in the entire country. If you are convicted of a weapons offense in NJ, you are likely looking at prison time. That’s because the Graves Act covers many weapons offenses and requires judges to impose mandatory terms of incarceration for offenders.
While many people understand that illegal possession of a handgun without first obtaining a valid firearms ID or handgun ownership license can lead to weapons charges, there are also a number of unexpected ways that a person can face a weapons charge in New Jersey. Here are a few surprising reasons you could be charged with a gun crime in NJ:
1. You’re an out-of-state resident driving through New Jersey and you have a gun carry permit from another state.
2. You unlawfully transferred your firearm to another person.
3. You were unlawfully in possession of an imitation firearm.
Out-of-State Handgun Possession Charges
Do not make the mistake of thinking that your handgun ownership license or gun carry permit from another state is applicable in NJ. Sometimes an out-of-state resident drives through New Jersey and gets pulled over by a patrol officer for a traffic violation or for some other reason. If this happens to you, you should be aware that telling the police officer that you have a handgun in your car could constitute an admission of guilt. That’s because gun permits from other states don’t apply in New Jersey. Unless you are legally authorized to possess a handgun in NJ, you cannot carry the gun within the state. This is true even if you are just passing through New Jersey.
As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, anyone who illegally owns or possesses a handgun can be charged with a second degree crime. Moreover, second degree illegal handgun possession is punishable by 5-10 years in New Jersey State Prison.
Unlawful Disposition of a Firearm in NJ
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9 imposes harsh penalties against anyone who disposes of their firearm in an unsafe manner. This is because lawmakers wanted to ensure public safety and guarantee that dangerous weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.
The statute also prohibits the unlawful transport of firearms. For instance, it is against the law to knowingly transport, ship, or otherwise bring into New Jersey a firearm for the purpose of unlawfully selling, transferring, or disposing of the gun. However, there may be defenses against this criminal charge, such as showing that you were temporarily transferring the weapon as an antique gun.
If you are charged with the unlawful disposition of a handgun, you can be charged with a fourth degree felony and potentially sentenced to 18 months in state prison. The unlawful disposition or transfer of a machine gun, assault rifle, or sawed-off shotgun carries even more severe penalties.
Unlawful Possession of an Imitation Firearm in NJ
Your personal BB gun could potentially land you behind bars for a long time. In addition to regulating handguns, machine guns, rifles, and shotguns, New Jersey gun laws also address the possession of imitation firearms. This means that you may be prohibited from carrying a BB gun, Airsoft gun, or pellet gun.
Although federal gun laws draw a distinction between imitation guns and actual firearms, NJ laws classify imitation guns as firearms. So you must obtain a valid carry permit for your BB gun or paintball gun – or risk being charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.
If you have been charged with a weapons offense in Atlantic County, New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you throughout the legal process. The aggressive criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your criminal charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.