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Weapons Offenses

How to Beat a Gun Charge in NJ?

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 criminal defense attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation of the case to understand how law enforcement obtained the evidence and what defense strategies may apply.

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. 

Graves Act Waiver

Even if evidence cannot be challenged and charges are unlikely to be dismissed, a skilled New Jersey criminal defense 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.

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.

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