New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, with severe penalties including mandatory state prison with mandatory periods of parole ineligibility. However, to be convicted of a gun crime in the first place, law enforcement must have collected the evidence lawfully and then prove specific things at trial.
Depending on the charges and circumstances, an experienced New Jersey gun crime lawyer can conduct an in-depth investigation of the case to understand how law enforcement obtained the evidence and what defense strategies may apply. At Lustberg Law Offices, our experienced lawyers have knowledge in navigating New Jersey firearm purchasing restrictions and developing legal defense strategies for individuals who have been unlawfully prohibited. We conduct thorough investigations and evidence analysis and tailor our defense strategies to your unique circumstances. Contact us at (201) 880-5311 for a free consultation.
Common Defenses to Weapons Charges in New Jersey
Gun charges must be legally appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of the situation and evidence must be obtained legally.
One common defense strategy to a gun charge is to challenge the legality of the search that resulted in the seizure of the evidence. If the gun was found on a premises or in a car, the police must have obtained it through the appropriate channels, either through a proper traffic stop followed by a lawful search or with a valid search warrant. Challenges to these can include:
- Challenging motor vehicle searches – Many firearms are discovered during routine traffic stops. However, the officer must have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband before he can legally search the car. If a firearm is found and confiscated during an unlawful search, that evidence will be suppressed.
- Challenging a vehicle stop without probable cause – Another defense to an illegal gun possession charge resulting from a traffic stop is to challenge the initial stop itself. When there was no lawful reason for a traffic stop, and that can be proven, the stop itself can be considered invalid and any evidence found during that stop can be suppressed.
- Challenging an invalid warrant or an unlawful search – A search warrant requires probable cause and has strict legal parameters. At times, law enforcement can take liberties when obtaining a warrant or search outside the scope of the warrant once they gain access to the premises. If law enforcement does this, and it can be proven, any evidence seized can be suppressed.
Gun owners from out of state may find that they are in violation of New Jersey’s stricter laws even though their conduct would normally be legal in the state where they are from. Even though their permit is not recognized in New Jersey, a non-resident of New Jersey who has a permit to carry a firearm in their state of domicile may be eligible for a diversionary program.
|Common Defenses to Weapons Charges in New Jersey||Description|
|Challenging the legality of the search||This defense involves challenging the legality of the search that resulted in the seizure of the gun. The search must have been conducted through proper channels.|
|Challenging motor vehicle searches||If a firearm is found and confiscated during an unlawful search conducted during a routine traffic stop, the evidence can be suppressed.|
|Challenging a vehicle stop without probable cause||This defense involves challenging the initial traffic stop itself, asserting that there was no lawful reason for the stop. If proven, any evidence found during the stop can be suppressed.|
|Challenging an invalid warrant||If law enforcement obtained a search warrant without sufficient probable cause or conducted a search beyond the scope of the warrant, any evidence seized can be suppressed.|
Graves Act Waiver
Even if evidence cannot be challenged and charges are unlikely to be dismissed, a skilled New Jersey gun crime attorney can negotiate with the prosecution in an attempt to get a sentence reduced. A Graves Act waiver of the mandatory-minimum sentencing may be available and a prison sentence reduced or avoided altogether.
Purchase and Ownership of Guns in New Jersey
In New Jersey, you must have a permit if you wish to own a firearm. Registration is technically not necessary because your information is available to the state when you obtain your permit for your firearm. This process is similar to how registration works in other states.
Possession of a prohibited firearm in New Jersey could result in a heavy charge, which may include prison time. NJ has laws that make it illegal to possess many types of firearms, including assault rifles. Guns with magazines that weigh more than 10 lbs and sawed-off shotguns are also prohibited in New Jersey.
A criminal charge could be brought against you if you purchase a firearm illegally in New Jersey. It doesn’t matter if you fire the gun or intend to use it for criminal purposes to be charged with crimes such as illegal gun purchase and/or possession. It is possible to be charged with a felony for simply possessing a firearm, even if you are not using it for a crime.
The state of New Jersey is also known for making it difficult to obtain a permit to transport a weapon. You could face a gun charge if you carry a weapon with no permit. Most firearm-carrying permits are granted to retired and active-duty police officers. Other people who wish to be allowed to carry a gun must prove that they need to carry a gun for their safety.
Can You Carry a Gun on Your Property in NJ?
In New Jersey, the laws regarding carrying a firearm are distinct between possession on your own property and carrying the firearm outside your home. Generally, you are allowed to possess and carry a firearm within your own home or property without significant restrictions. However, carrying a gun outside your home, whether on your person or in your vehicle, without a carry permit is considered a second-degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5.
While you have a constitutional right to possess a gun within your home, this right does not extend automatically to carrying a firearm outside your residence. Certain exemptions exist for specific circumstances and environments. For example, if you own a business that is not mobile, you may lawfully keep a firearm on the premises. Additionally, exemptions apply when traveling to and from certain locations. It is important to note that gun repair shops, firing ranges, and designated hunting locations are among the places where you may legally carry a weapon without a permit.
It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations governing firearm possession and carrying in New Jersey, as they can be complex and subject to change. Consulting with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney that is well-versed in firearm laws can provide you with accurate and up-to-date information. Contact Lustberg Law Offices to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.
Getting the Assistance of an Experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Gun charges in New Jersey are serious criminal offenses. A skilled criminal defense attorney will study all police reports, body camera footage, dashcam footage, and witness statements to look for any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case in order to strengthen the client’s defense.
If you are facing a weapons charge, contact New Jersey criminal defense attorney Adam M. Lustberg to understand your rights under the law and discuss a possible defense strategy.