Assault Firearms

NJ Assault Firearms Lawyer

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Helps Clients Fight Charges for Illegal Possession of an Assault Weapon

New Jersey gun laws place severe restrictions on the firearms that a person can own, possess, and/or carry within the state. While many different types of firearms, such as handguns and rifles, can be legally registered and owned in NJ, the same is not true of assault firearms. New Jersey law stipulates that most weapons classified as “assault firearms” cannot be owned, except in rare circumstances. Anyone who is unsure if one of their guns is considered as an assault firearm under the law should talk to an NJ assault firearms lawyer. That’s because New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and a person who is found in possession of an assault firearm may be subject to harsh penalties that include lengthy prison time.

Frank T. Luciano is an NJ criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of New Jersey gun laws because he has decades of experience defending clients against weapons offense charges in Hackensack, Paramus, Mahwah, and across the state. If you have been charged with illegal possession of an assault firearm in New Jersey, contact Mr. Luciano now.

What’s Considered an “Assault Firearm” in New Jersey?

New Jersey law provides a list of weapons that meet the definition of “assault firearm.” This list is quite long, and includes weapons like Armalite AR-180 type, Australian Automatic Arms SAR, Avtomat Kalashnikov type semi-automatic firearms, Beretta AR-70 and BM59 semi-automatic firearms, Bushmaster Assault Rifle, Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series, Encom MP-9 and MP-45 carbine types, Intratrec TEC 9 and 22 semi-automatic firearms, M1 carbine type, M14S type, Ruger K-Mini-14/5F and Mini-14/5RF, SKS with detachable magazine type, Spectre Auto carbine type, Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48 type, Uzi type semi-automatic firearms, and Weaver Arm Nighthawk.

It is important to be aware that the New Jersey assault firearms statute also prohibits “substantially identical devices” to the codified list of assault firearms. This “substantially identical” clause allows New Jersey law to broadly define “assault firearm” to include a wide variety of weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic pistols, and semi-automatic shotguns that meet certain minimum requirements. These requirements vary, depending on the specific type of weapon:

  • Semi-automatic rifles: A semi-automatic rifle may be prohibited by NJ law if it has a detachable magazine, a folding or telescoping stock, a conspicuous and protruding pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, and/or a grenade launcher.
  • Semi-automatic pistols: A semi-automatic pistol may be prohibited by NJ gun laws if the pistol has a detachable magazine, a barrel extender, a flash suppressor, a silencer, a shroud that encircles the barrel, and/or a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more.
  • Semi-automatic shotguns: A semi-automatic shotgun may be barred by NJ law if it has a folding or telescoping stock, a conspicuous and protruding pistol grip, a fixed magazine capacity in excess of five (5) rounds, and/or an ability to accept a detachable magazine.

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) – Illegal Possession of an Assault Firearm Law in New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) of the New Jersey criminal code addresses the unlawful possession of assault firearms. The criminal statute declares that any person who knowingly possesses an assault firearm is guilty of a crime of the second degree unless the firearm is licensed or registered in New Jersey. However, the presence of these exceptions in the statute is a bit misleading because the NJ State Legislature has clarified that these types of assault weapons are almost always prohibited. In fact, state guidelines only allow for ownership of an assault firearm in a few circumstances:

  • Grandfather clause: A New Jersey resident can potentially own an assault firearm if the person acquired and legally registered the weapon in NJ prior to May 1, 1990. Keep in mind that these licenses cannot be inherited: a person who inherits an assault firearm and then fails to turn over the gun to the authorities can be charged with violating NJ gun laws.
  • Police officers: A New Jersey police officer may be allowed to have an assault firearm for work purposes. Additionally, an NJ police officer can request permission from their agency to own a personal assault firearm.
  • FFL gun dealers: A Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder may be allowed to possess assault firearms for their business as a gun shop owner or licensed gun dealer in New Jersey.

Anyone who does not have a valid firearms ID card and/or license for an assault firearm in New Jersey is not allowed to possess this type of weapon. And since very few individuals are actually allowed to obtain a license to own an assault firearm in NJ, the vast majority of people can be charged with a crime if they are found in possession of any of these prohibited weapons.

What Are the Penalties for Illegally Possessing an Assault Weapon in NJ?

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) classifies unlawful possession of an assault firearm as a second degree crime (i.e., felony). This means that anyone who is arrested and convicted on these very serious charges is subject to significant penalties. As set forth by the law, a conviction for second degree illegal possession of an assault firearm can result in the offender being sentenced to 5-10 years in NJ state prison. Moreover, the New Jersey Graves Act also applies when the charges involve unlawful possession of an assault firearm. The Graves Act requires judges to impose minimum mandatory sentences, with parole ineligibility, if a defendant facing criminal gun charges is ultimately convicted. It can also be difficult for the defendant to get admission into a diversionary program like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) because prosecutors do not like to offer plea deals in Graves Act cases.

Fight Your Criminal Charges for Illegal Possession of a Semi-Automatic Assault Weapon in Mahwah, NJ

Anyone who has been charged with illegal possession of a handgun, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, illegal possession of an assault firearm, or any other weapons offense in NJ needs to have a qualified criminal defense lawyer on their side. Depending on the circumstances of your assault weapon case, it may be possible to get the charges downgraded or even dismissed – but you will need the assistance of an attorney who possesses a deep understanding of New Jersey gun laws and who can recognize possible exceptions to the assault firearms law. For instance, one exception to the law is that a person may not need a firearms license if the weapon has been rendered inoperable and does not pose a threat to public health or safety.

NJ gun crimes attorney Frank T. Luciano is prepared to raise these and other defenses in your assault firearms possession case. When you hire Mr. Luciano to represent you, what you will get is an attorney who is passionate about protecting clients’ Second Amendment rights and tenacious when it comes to dismantling the prosecution’s arguments. For some perspective from past clients, visit the Client Testimonials section on this website.

Free Initial Consultation with Hackensack Assault Firearms Attorney Frank T. Luciano

Frank T. Luciano is an accomplished New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience handling assault firearms cases in Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson counties. Call or email Mr. Luciano today to schedule a free initial consultation about your assault weapon case.