New Jersey is one of the strictest weapons states in the entire Nation, and being charged with a weapons offense in New Jersey can carry very lengthy State Prison sentences, even for first-time offenders.
In New Jersey, it is illegal to unlawfully possess any weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
Similarly, it is illegal to possess firearms, including machine guns, handguns, shotguns and rifles without having a license to possess same. Convictions for possessing these weapons are punishable by 5-10 years in State Prison, with a minimum of 3.5 years before a person becomes eligible for parole.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, it is a separate, and altogether different crime, for a person to possess a firearm for an unlawful purpose, a second-degree crime, punishable by up to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, with potentially a 5 year minimum before parole eligibility.
New Jersey has enacted a law known as the Graves Act which carries a mandatory minimum State Prison sentence for offenders convicted of either possessing or possessing with an unlawful purpose a firearm, both of which are second-degree crimes, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 and 2C:39-4, respectively.
As such, a conviction for a gun offense which triggers the Graves Act results in a minimum State Prison sentence of 5 years in New Jersey Prison with a 3.5 year period of parole ineligibility, and up to 10 years in Prison with a 5 year period of parole ineligibility.
Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Offense:
New Jersey has enacted a statute wherein it is a separate, second-degree crime to be in possession of a firearm while committing, attempting to commit or conspiring to commit a drug trafficking offense.
This offense is punishable by a minimum of 5 years in New Jersey Prison with a 3 year period of parole ineligibility, up to 10 years in Prison with a 5 year period of parole ineligibility.
More importantly, the law requires that any conviction for this sentence be served consecutively, or on top of, any other convictions, thus dramatically increasing one’s period incarceration from 5-10 years in State Prison.
Two of the most important factors in any prosecution which includes a firearm offense are (1) whether the weapon is operable; and (2) whether the weapon may be tied to the accused and/or another crime.
As former prosecutors who have supervised, litigated and taken to trial a large amount of weapons cases, it is important to hold the Government to their burden, including ensuring that the weapon is properly tested in conformance with applicable standards for operability.
Similarly, when a weapon is lawfully purchased or transferred, that weapon’s identifying numbers are linked to an individual. This information is often critical if the weapon is stolen, or in defending the case based on the accused’s state of mind.
Lastly, a ballistic examination of the firearm, including ballistics evidence recovered at the scene of any crime, being microscopically examined and run through the IBIS database can prove devastating in a prosecutor’s arsenal.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a gun or weapons offense, contact Schiller McMahon today.