NJ Weapons Forfeiture Hearings Lawyer
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Helps Clients Keep Their Firearms in Domestic Violence Cases
Most people know that being charged with a crime in New Jersey can have serious consequences that include prison time, fines, and possibly a criminal record. What not everyone realizes is that some NJ criminal charges can also result in the accused having their firearms confiscated by law enforcement. Moreover, the types of criminal charges that lead to weapons seizures do not even have to involve gun crimes. In certain situations, such as a domestic violence investigation, it is not even necessary for the accused to be charged with a crime before police are allowed to seize their handguns and other legally owned weapons. If your handguns have been seized by law enforcement, you need to speak with an NJ weapons forfeiture hearings lawyer who is prepared to help you get your weapons back.
Frank T. Luciano has decades of experience defending clients against gun crime charges and helping clients protect their Second Amendment gun ownership rights in Hackensack, Paramus, Elmwood Park, and throughout New Jersey. If you need representation at an NJ weapons forfeiture hearing, contact Mr. Luciano immediately.
When Can the Police Seize Your Handguns in New Jersey?
New Jersey law grants police the right to confiscate your handguns and other firearms in certain situations. NJ authorities can also revoke your firearms licenses and permits in certain circumstances, which means that you will no longer be legally allowed to own or carry a firearm in New Jersey. Most of the time, police seize a person’s firearms if the person has been accused of a violent crime. However, it is not actually necessary for the person to be charged with a criminal offense if police determine that weapons seizure is necessary to protect an alleged victim of domestic violence against risk of serious bodily injury.
The most common situation in which a New Jersey weapons seizure arises is a domestic violence situation. The NJ Prevention of Domestic Violence Act gives law enforcement the ability to confiscate a handgun when there is probable cause for police to believe that the gun owner committed an act of domestic violence. The idea behind this aspect of the domestic violence law is that an alleged victim of domestic violence could be in danger when handguns or other weapons remain present in the house. Moreover, police typically do not take any chances in these cases: if law enforcement is called to your residence to investigate a domestic violence complaint, there is a high likelihood that your firearms will be seized. This applies not just to a firearm that may have been used in the alleged criminal act, but also any other weapons in the home.
It is also important to note that New Jersey police are allowed to seize your lawfully obtained and legally owned firearms even if no criminal charges are filed against you. For instance, many domestic violence complaints result in a temporary restraining order (TRO) being issued for the protection of the alleged victim. Restraining orders are considered “civil complaints” in New Jersey because they do not necessarily involve the criminal courts. Nevertheless, NJ law enforcement can still confiscate your firearms and other weapons in these civil cases because the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act gives them the authority to do so.
What Happens After Your Firearms Are Seized by NJ Law Enforcement?
The legal process after New Jersey law enforcement seizes your weapons in a domestic violence case, or in a criminal matter, can unfold very quickly. The first thing that NJ police will do after seizing your weapons is to deliver them to the county prosecutor’s office. The county prosecutor will then have 45 days to either (1) formally file a request for a weapons forfeiture hearing to permanently seize the weapons, or (2) return the weapons to you. If a weapons forfeiture hearing is scheduled, then you will need to prevail at the hearing or lose the right to get your weapons back. Moreover, you could also lose the right to own any firearms in New Jersey because the judge at the hearing could revoke your firearms ID card.
A lot of weapons forfeiture cases also involve a restraining order in connection with a domestic violence complaint. If a TRO has been issued against you, then you will need to attend a Final Restraining Order (FRO) hearing. The outcome of the FRO hearing will likely determine whether your seized weapons will be returned to you. Under both NJ state law and federal law, an individual with a restraining order issued against them is prohibited from owning a firearm. It is also important to know that a court can order you to forfeit your firearms and other weapons even if you win at the FRO hearing. That’s because the judge may believe that you still pose a threat to the alleged victim in your domestic violence case, or the judge may hold it against you if you have a prior criminal record.
Although neither the weapons forfeiture hearing nor the FRO hearing is technically a criminal proceeding, you should have a knowledgeable NJ criminal defense lawyer on your side if you want to maximize your chances of retaining your firearms.
Protect Your Handgun Ownership Rights in Elmwood Park, NJ
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects your gun ownership rights by granting you the right to bear arms. However, your right to own a handgun in New Jersey is still not absolute: in certain circumstances, law enforcement can confiscate your firearms. This typically happens in domestic violence cases because police often want to remove any deadly weapons from a home where there is the potential for violence. The best way to protect your rights and ensure that you do not lose the ability to possess a firearm in New Jersey is to talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney early in the legal process.
Contact Paramus Domestic Violence Attorney Frank T. Luciano About Your NJ Weapons Forfeiture Hearing
Frank T. Luciano is a New Jersey domestic violence attorney with decades of experience in criminal matters involving weapons offenses, domestic violence charges, and restraining orders. Mr. Luciano represents clients at restraining order hearings and weapons forfeiture hearings across New Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. To schedule a free initial consultation, call or email Mr. Luciano now.