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27 Nov 23

Defending Yourself Against Weapons Charges in New Jersey

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Last Updated on: 6th December 2023, 10:58 pm

Defending Yourself Against Weapons Charges in New Jersey

If you’ve been arrested for a weapons violation in New Jersey, it can be an intimidating and stressful situation. As someone who values their Second Amendment rights, you may feel unfairly targeted. However, with the right legal strategy, you can get the charges reduced or even dismissed. This article will break down the most common weapons charges in NJ and the potential defenses so you can make informed decisions if facing prosecution.

The Most Common Weapons Charges

New Jersey has strict gun laws—some of the toughest in the nation, in fact. It’s crucial to understand the specific offenses you’ve been charged with. The most frequent weapons-related crimes include:

  • Unlawful possession of a weapon – This covers everything from brass knuckles and stun guns to firearms. Lack of proper permitting/licensing is often the issue.
  • Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose – This suggests you intended to use the weapon to harm others or property illegally.
  • Certain persons offenses – These bans prohibit anyone convicted of certain crimes from owning firearms and other weapons. Violations typically lead to second-degree felony charges.
  • Carrying a handgun without a permit – New Jersey is a “may issue” state, meaning officials have discretion in granting carry permits with strict requirements. Carrying concealed handguns without a permit leads to second-degree crimes.

Possible Defenses Against Weapons Charges

While weapons crimes can lead to harsh punishments like prison time and fines, viable legal defenses exist that an experienced attorney can leverage. Here are some of the most effective strategies:

  • Invalid search – If the police violated 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, any evidence found may be inadmissible. This could get charges dismissed.
  • Entrapment – Undercover operations that coerce otherwise law-abiding people into committing weapons crimes they wouldn’t normally can be entrapment. This is a full defense resulting in acquittals.
  • Self-defense – In certain scenarios, possession of an illegal weapon may have been necessary for urgent self-protection so there was no criminal intent. Stand Your Ground laws in NJ could apply.
  • Statute of limitations expirations – Charges must be filed within 5 years for most indictable offenses in New Jersey or they can be thrown out.
  • Mental competency issues – Defendants found unfit to stand trial due to mental illness may get charges dismissed and be placed in psychiatric care instead of prison.
  • Coerced confessions – Admissions of guilt caused by intimidation or promises of leniency are inadmissible, damaging the prosecution.
  • Technical errors – Police mistakes like lacking probable cause for searches or not reading Miranda rights could suppress evidence and get charges dropped on procedural grounds rather than merits.
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Sentencing and Penalties

If convicted of unlawful weapons possession in New Jersey, sentencing depends on your criminal history and the discretion of judges. But here are some general guidelines based on offense severity:

  • Disorderly persons offenses – Up to 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Probation is common.
  • 4th degree crimes – Up to 18 months imprisonment and $10,000 in fines. Probation with community service is likely.
  • 3rd degree crimes – Between 3-5 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. Parole may cut down time served.
  • 2nd degree crimes – 5-10 years incarceration and fines exceeding $150,000. At least 85% of sentences must be served by law before parole eligibility.

Judges can also impose supervised release, counseling, surrender of all firearms and permits, and other individualized punishments. Those convicted of domestic violence firearm offenses face permanent weapons ownership bans, for example.

Finding the Right Legal Help

Don’t go through worrying court proceedings for weapons charges alone. An experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your specific case details and provide expert guidance. They understand all the latest gun laws and sentencing guidelines in NJ so there won’t be any surprises.

With an attorney’s help fighting flawed evidence, negotiating plea deals, or preparing solid legal defenses, you have the best chance at a positive outcome. This could mean getting charges downgraded or dismissed entirely so you can move on with life and continue exercising your Second Amendment rights freely. Don’t leave freedom in the hands of overzealous prosecutors – fight back strategically with legal experts on your side.