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Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose

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N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose

Manchester, New Jersey Weapons Possession Attorney

Weapons charges, specifically those involving guns, are also a controversial matter. New Jersey residents who bear arms as their right under second amendment must be cautious about what restrictions exist to that right. Depending upon the facts of your case, lawful possession of a handgun or rifle can quickly turn into felony charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.  If you or someone your loved have been arrested and charged with possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose in Ocean County it is crucial that you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. As a felony criminal offense, these charges may cause the Ocean County Prosecutor to file for Pretrial Detention under the new bail reform guidelines enacted in 2017. This means that you will not be afforded bail up to and during trial.  This will make it difficult for any defendant to properly strategize for their trial while locked behind bars at the Ocean County Jail.

Regardless of the severity of your weapons charge, you are likely facing the prospects of having a criminal record, extended incarceration, parole ineligibility and steep fines if convicted. This is in addition to the penalties you face for any additional charges that have been filed against your including, but not limited to, terroristic threats, harassment, aggravated assault, carjacking, robbery, drug possession and drug distribution. Call our Point Pleasant office today and speak with an attorney about how we can represent you in your criminal matter. Our firm handles weapons charges throughout Ocean County, including towns like Toms River, Brick, Jackson, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Manahawkin, Stafford, Long Beach Island and Barnegat, to name a few. Don’t feel resigned plead guilty and throw away your life, call 848-238-2100 today and start working towards protecting your future.

What is a Weapon under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4?

In New Jersey, our criminal criminal code has a broad interpretation of the word “weapon.” Contrary to what most people think, a weapon is not just a gun.  A “weapon” is anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury. Actually, most household items can be considered a weapon, under the right circumstances. Our experience has taught us that things like a baseball bat, a beer bottle, a lawn chair, a screwdriver or even a coffee thermos could qualify as a weapon. So under this statute, what otherwise would be considered a lawful item, which has a totally legitimate purpose, could result in charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

New Jersey Weapons Law Explained

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 is the specific statute used by prosecutors and police in New Jersey when charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose are involved. This law covers multiple types of conduct related to weapons possession. Each separate type of conduct is punishable by its own varying degree of gradation. Depending on your case, you may be facing a second degree case, which carries up to 10 years in prison, or a fourth degree case, which carries up to 18 months incarceration. Understanding the differences is imperative to dismantling the State’s case against you.

Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purpose N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a

Under this section of the law, the State must demonstrate the following elements in order to convict a defendant:

  1. The item in question was a firearm;
  2. That the Defendant possessed the firearm;
  3. That while possessing the firearm, the Defendant had the intent to use it against another; &
  4. The Defendant’s underlying intent was to use it unlawfully.

This section of the statute for unlawful possession of a weapon is a second degree felony charge in Ocean County. A second degree offense carries a $150,000.00 and a term of incarceration between 5 and 10 years. Also, because of the violent use of a firearm, this charge triggers a legislative act called Graves Act. The Graves Act requires that anyone convicted of a certain offense must serve a minimum of 3 ½ years of parole ineligibility. In this scenario, a conviction of this offense would mandate that you serve a minimum of 42 months in jail before becoming eligible for parole.

Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d, “Other Weapons”

Under this section of the law, the State must demonstrate the following elements in order to convict a defendant:

  1. The item in question was a “weapon”;
  2. That the Defendant possessed the “weapon”;
  3. That while possessing the “weapon”, the Defendant had the intent to use it against another; and
  4. The Defendant’s underlying intent was to use it unlawfully.

Unlike the other charge involving a firearm, this offense is a third degree felony. This means that you will face between 3 and 5 years in a New Jersey State Penitentiary upon conviction. Because this offense does not involve a firearm, the Graves Act is not triggered. While there is not a mandatory parole ineligibility trigger, the judge still have the discretion to impose parole ineligibility is he deems it appropriate.

Possession of a Imitation Firearm for Unlawful Purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4e

Under this section of the law, the State must demonstrate the following elements in order to convict a defendant:

  1. The item in question was an imitation firearm;
  2. That the Defendant possessed the imitation firearm;
  3. That Defendant possessed the imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe it was possessed for an unlawful purpose; &
  4. The Defendant knew that the person would reasonably believe that the imitation firearm was possessed for an unlawful purpose.

While still a felony offense, this charge is only a fourth degree crime in New Jersey. This means that a judge may sentence you upwards of 18 months in jail/prison, if convicted or you plead guilty.

Toms River Attorney for Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose

If you haven’t already gathered from the information above, weapons charges in New Jersey should never be taken lightly. Whether you were charged with using a handgun, rifle or some other “weapon”, these types of offenses carry the real possibility of imprisonment. Moreover, you are likely to lose your gun to forfeiture by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Contact the Toms River criminal defense attorneys at 848-238-2100 and find out what can be done about your case. Depending on the facts at hand, we may have grounds to file a motion for suppression based on an unlawful stop and seizure. The only way for us to determine what we can do is to sit down and discuss your matter. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.

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