Unlawful Possession of a Weapon

NJ Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Lawyer

Experienced Gun Crimes Attorney Helps Clients Fight Weapons Possession Charges in New Jersey

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects your right to bear arms, but individual states are still allowed to regulate your gun ownership rights. A knowledgeable NJ unlawful possession of a weapon lawyer will tell you that New Jersey might have the harshest gun laws in the country, with NJ prosecutors often seeking maximum penalties in cases involving the unlawful possession of weapons like handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Unfortunately, a lot of NJ residents do not realize that they are committing a weapons offense until it is too late. The same is true of out-of-state residents who drive through New Jersey for work or vacation only to wind up behind bars and facing years in prison simply because they had a registered handgun in their vehicle’s glove compartment or trunk. When it comes to unlawful possession of a weapon in New Jersey, your lack of intent to violate the law may not protect you against serious criminal charges. That is why you need to seek counsel from a reputable NJ criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Frank T. Luciano is a New Jersey gun crimes lawyer with decades of experience defending clients against charges for unlawful possession of a weapon. Contact Mr. Luciano today to discuss your NJ weapons offense charges.

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Charges in New Jersey

The law that addresses the unlawful possession of weapons in New Jersey is codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 of the NJ criminal code. As set forth by the statute, it is illegal for a person to own or possess certain dangerous weapons without a valid license or permit within the state’s borders. For instance, anyone who wants to own a handgun in New Jersey must first obtain a firearms ID card. Other weapons that must be registered by the owner include most shotguns and rifles, while assault firearms can be registered and owned in rare circumstances. Some weapons and related items, such as sawed-off shotguns, defaced pistols, firearm silencers, and armor-piercing bullets, are completely outlawed and cannot be owned or possessed under any circumstances in NJ.

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 specifically mentions handguns, rifles, and shotguns. However, it is important to realize that a charge for unlawful possession of a weapon in New Jersey is not limited to firearms. The statute makes it clear that just about any object can be classified as a “weapon” if it is capable of lethal use or if it can be used to inflict serious bodily injury. This has been interpreted broadly by NJ law enforcement and prosecutors to include all kinds of items: knives, daggers, switchblades, stilettos, blackjacks, brass knuckles, clubs, tear gas dispensers, baseball bats, and slingshots. A lot of times, the intent of the person possessing the weapon may be used by law enforcement to determine whether to bring criminal charges for unlawful weapons possession.

Severe Penalties for Unlawfully Possessing a Weapon in NJ

The exact penalties for unlawful possession of a weapon in New Jersey are determined by the type of weapon in question:

  • Handguns: 5-10 years in NJ state prison
  • Assault Firearms: 5-10 years in NJ state prison
  • Machine Guns: 5-10 years in NJ state prison
  • Shotguns: 3-5 years in NJ state prison
  • Rifles: 3-5 years in NJ state prison
  • Airsoft Guns: 3-5 years in NJ state prison
  • Other Weapons: up to 18 months in NJ state prison

The last category of “other weapons” is broadly interpreted to encompass virtually any other type of weapon. The statute declares that anyone “who knowingly has in his or her possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.” This basically means that if a person intends to use an object to harm another person or to damage property, then the mere possession of the object constitutes a violation of the law. And since just about any object can be used in these ways, it is very easy for NJ law enforcement to bring charges for unlawful possession of a weapon. Moreover, in these types of cases, it is common for prosecutors to also file charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Additionally, keep in mind that if your unlawful possession of a weapon charge involves a handgun or other firearm, your case will likely fall under the purview of the NJ Graves Act. This means that you will be subject to a minimum mandatory sentence if convicted, as well as no parole eligibility.

Related Charge: Unlawful Possession of a Firearm at a New Jersey School

The criminal statute also makes it clear that anyone who brings a firearm or other weapon onto school grounds in New Jersey can be charged with a criminal offense. For instance, a person who knowingly carries a handgun or other firearm on the grounds of any school, college, university, or other educational institution in NJ can be charged with a third degree crime. A conviction on these charges would be punishable by a sentence of 3-5 years in state prison.

The law governing the possession of weapons at New Jersey educational institutions applies to all kinds of weapons, not just handguns. For instance, a person who knowingly possesses an imitation firearm such as a toy pistol or replica pistol at an educational institution or on a school bus can be charged with a disorderly persons offense and potentially face up to six (6) months in the local county jail if convicted. The penalties are even worse for someone who brings a knife, brass knuckles, or any other type of weapon onto school grounds in New Jersey without the written authorization of the educational institution: a sentence of up to 18 months in NJ state prison.

Winning Your Hackensack Unlawful Possession of a Weapon Case

In the context of the New Jersey criminal code, a “weapon” is considered any object that can be used to cause death or inflict serious bodily injury on someone. The criminal statute is quite broad, which means that a person can be charged with an NJ weapons offense if they use a handgun, an Airsoft gun, a stun gun, a knife, brass knuckles, a baseball bat, or just about any other object. As one might expect, the most serious weapons offense charges in New Jersey tend to involve firearms: handgun charges often carry the harshest penalties.

NJ gun crimes lawyer Frank T. Luciano is ready to help you fight your weapons offense charges, regardless of the type of weapon in question. Mr. Luciano is dedicated to defending clients against criminal charges in New Jersey courtrooms, and he prepares each case with the expectation that it will eventually head to trial. Moreover, he is highly selective when it comes to the clients he represents because you deserve focus and attention from your lawyer – the stakes in your weapons possession case are simply too high for you to hire an overworked attorney who is going to pass off your case to an inexperienced associate. To learn more about what Mr. Luciano’s clients think of him, visit the Testimonials section on this website.

Contact Paramus Criminal Defense Attorney Frank T. Luciano About Your Unlawful Weapon Possession Charges

Frank T. Luciano is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has spent decades representing clients in weapons possession cases throughout New Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. Call or email Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free consultation about your case.

Our Client Testimonials

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From a former client charged with a serious weapons offense

"At the time, I was mortified because, having only worked against you in the Prosecutor’s Office, I couldn’t picture being on the same side. Frank, I want to thank you for the pleasure of having worked with you over the past years. I have learned a great deal from you. Most importantly, I learned that cases were not always as black and white as I thought they were when I worked for the Prosecutor’s Office. You are a wonderful attorney who not only works hard, but also cares deeply about his clients. Frank, I think you are the best."


From a former investigator of a county prosecutor’s office and retired private investigator

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