Illegal Possession of a Handgun

NJ Illegal Possession of a Handgun Lawyer

Criminal Defense Attorney Helps You Fight Handgun Possession Charges in New Jersey

New Jersey has some of the strictest handgun laws in the nation and imposes perhaps the most severe penalties of any state for handgun offenses. A person charged with violating these gun crime laws needs an experienced NJ illegal possession of a handgun lawyer fighting for them throughout the legal process. Without a qualified attorney on your side, your life as you know it could soon be over: a conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun in New Jersey is punishable by years in state prison, with prosecutors often seeking a maximum term of incarceration for the convicted offender.

You need to take your illegal handgun possession charge seriously. If you have been accused of a weapons offense in Hackensack, Paramus, Mahwah, or anywhere else in New Jersey, contact NJ gun crime attorney Frank T. Luciano now.

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) – Illegal Possession of a Handgun Law in New Jersey

Illegal handgun possession charges in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b of the state’s criminal code. Under the terms of the criminal statute, individuals are prohibited from knowingly possessing a handgun without first having obtained a valid license, permit, or firearms ID card to own and/or carry the weapon.

As set forth by the NJ criminal code, the prosecution must prove a number of different elements in an illegal handgun possession case. These elements are:

  1. The weapon seized by law enforcement is, in fact, a handgun as defined by New Jersey law.
  2. The defendant possessed the handgun, either actually or constructively.
  3. The defendant did not have a valid license or permit for the handgun.

Regarding the first element – that the seized weapon is a handgun – the law can be interpreted quite broadly so that all kinds of weapons are classified as a “handgun.” For instance, NJ prosecutors may bring charges against you for illegal possession of a handgun when the weapon in question is a pistol, revolver, or any other type of firearm designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.

The second element – that you possessed the handgun – can also be interpreted broadly by NJ prosecutors because the law defines possession as either actual or constructive. “Constructive possession” means that you had control over the firearm even though you did not technically have it on your person. For instance, a handgun found in your vehicle glove compartment during a police search might be construed as having been “constructively possessed” by you.

The third element – that you lacked a handgun license – technically means that you must be prepared to provide law enforcement with a firearms ID card at the time when you are found with the handgun. If you cannot provide the necessary proof, there is a presumption that you do not have a firearms ID card and you will likely be criminally charged. However, this opens the door to contest the charges later by proving that you did, in fact, have a valid handgun permit at the time of your arrest. Also, it is important to note that the law requires you to have a valid firearms ID card for each handgun that you own.

Criminal Charges for Lacking Handgun Carry Permit in Mahwah, NJ

Keep in mind that a person can potentially be charged with illegal handgun possession in New Jersey even if they legally obtained the firearm and have a firearms ID card. That’s because a firearms ownership license does not necessarily grant a handgun owner the legal right to carry the weapon outside their home or place of residence. If a person is caught in possession of a handgun without a valid carry permit, they may face criminal charges. This typically happens when NJ law enforcement finds the weapon stored in the owner’s glove compartment or trunk during a vehicle search. The end result will be that the handgun owner is arrested and charged with illegally carrying or transporting their firearm without a license or permit to do so.

Out-of-State Handgun Possession Charges in New Jersey

Sometimes, individuals traveling from another state to New Jersey are arrested and charged with illegal possession of a handgun even when they have a valid permit or license for the weapon. That is because New Jersey does not recognize handgun carry permits from other states. If you drive to NJ, you are not allowed to bring a firearm with you unless you have a carry permit that has been issued by the State of New Jersey. Unfortunately, a lot of people from neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New York unknowingly violate the law because they are unfamiliar with NJ criminal statutes. Every year, many tourists, truck drivers, and others are shocked to find themselves under arrest and facing years in prison for NJ handgun possession violations.

Severe Penalties for Illegal Handgun Possession Violations in Elmwood Park, NJ

NJ prosecutors often seek to have maximum penalties imposed against violators of the state handgun possession laws as a way to discourage future violations. Even in cases when the minimum penalties are imposed, the consequences can be catastrophic because the mandatory minimum term of incarceration for illegal possession of a handgun in New Jersey is several years in prison. The best way to avoid these penalties is to have a knowledgeable NJ criminal defense lawyer handling your case and helping you contest the charges.

The relevant criminal statute classifies illegal handgun possession as a second degree crime (i.e., felony). What this means for offenders is that a conviction for illegally possessing or carrying a handgun in New Jersey can result in a sentence of 5-10 years in NJ state prison. Additionally, firearm possession violations come with a presumption of incarceration, which means that anyone convicted of this offense is likely going to have to serve prison time. Moreover, these penalties are often enhanced when the defendant has a prior conviction for another gun crime or for a crime of violence. A defendant who is a repeat offender or who has a conviction for a violent crime on their record could be charged with a first degree crime and face 10-20 years in NJ state prison if convicted of illegal handgun possession.

N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) – New Jersey Graves Act for Gun Crimes

The Graves Act is the law in New Jersey that regulates gun crimes, including illegal possession of a handgun crimes. Under the NJ Graves Act, a person who is convicted of a firearms offense such as illegal handgun possession is subject to a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment and parole ineligibility. The minimum term of imprisonment is fixed at 1/3 to 1/2 of the sentence imposed by the judge, or three (3) years – whichever is greater.

The weapons offenses covered by the Graves Act include:

Even a first-time offender is likely to get prison time if convicted of illegal handgun possession because all Graves Act offenses come with a presumption of incarceration. To make matters worse, the Graves Act limits the flexibility of prosecutors: it can be difficult to persuade the prosecution in a gun crime case to allow the defendant to receive probation or enter a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) in lieu of jail time. However, a qualified NJ criminal defense attorney may be able to obtain a Graves Act waiver for the defendant if there are mitigating circumstances in the case.

Fighting Your Gun Crime Charges in Paramus, New Jersey

As soon as you hire New Jersey weapons offense lawyer Frank T. Luciano, he will get to work for you. One of the first things that Mr. Luciano does in NJ gun crime cases is challenge certain aspects of the prosecution’s case. The reality is that most gun arrests in New Jersey are made after police search a suspect’s car, house, or personal belongings. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, Mr. Luciano may be able to contest the probable cause for police pulling you over while driving, searching your vehicle or backpack, or setting foot on your property without a warrant. An illegal search and seizure that violated your constitutional rights could open the door for your attorney to challenge the evidence and get the charges dismissed.

Frank T. Luciano is a tenacious litigator who enjoys beating prosecutors in the courtroom. He is also capable of negotiating favorable plea agreements when the circumstances call for it. Over the years, his clients have come to expect a strong defense and a positive outcome to their cases. Visit the Client Testimonials section on this website to read endorsements from many of Mr. Luciano’s past clients.

Contact Hackensack Handgun Possession Attorney Frank T. Luciano

If you have been charged with illegal handgun possession, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, a certain persons offense, or any other gun crime in New Jersey, it is critically important that you speak to a qualified NJ criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Frank T. Luciano is an accomplished criminal defense attorney with decades of experience handling gun crimes cases throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson counties. Call or email Mr. Luciano now to start your defense.