Penalties for Possession of an Illegal Gun in New Jersey

Accomplished Former Prosecutors At Our Firm Are Ready To Defend Your NJ Gun Charge

It definitely should not come as a shocker that penalties for possessing an illegal handgun or other firearm are extreme in New Jersey since the state has some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation. Whether the offense is for unlawful possession, being a certain person, possession of a firearm during CDS distribution or unlawful purposes charges, there are major prison terms that attach. The situation escalates even further when an individual is exposed to an extended term of imprisonment or the charge falls under the Graves Act. The headings below outline the penalties that are triggered in all of these contexts. Hiring a talented New Jersey gun offense lawyer is going to be crucial to your maintaining your liberty if you have been charged in any of these situations. A lawyer at our firm has exactly what is needed to achieve the very best outcome.

We are the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, a team that possesses unique and power qualifications to defend you. Our staff can offer you:

  • Over 200 years of combined experience representing clients arrested for possession of an illegal handgun, rifle, assault weapon, shotgun or another firearm
  • 10 lawyers that specialize exclusively in criminal defense
  • Former county prosecutors who have served as the Director of the Guns Task Force, Major Crimes Bureau, Special Operations and even an entire Trial Division
  • Certified criminal trial attorneys
  • Completion of many handgun cases and trials resulting in dismissal or acquittal

For a free consultation with a gun defense attorney, call our office at 877-450-8301. Someone is available 24/7 to discuss your case, how we can help you prevail in a detention hearing or any other aspect of your firearm case.

What Are The Penalties in New Jersey for Possessing an Illegal Gun?

Although almost all gun charges carry penalties that include prison, the severity of a sentence hinges on the type of offense and variety of firearm possessed. In all cases, however, possession must be “knowing”; in other words, the individual must know that the object is a gun and that it is within his or her actual or constructive possession. The headings below discuss the penalties for common gun charges in New Jersey.

  • Unlawful Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5c makes it a third-degree crime to possess a rifle, shotgun, or another long gun without a firearms identification (“ID”) card. The penalties include 3-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Unlawful Possession of a Handgun. You face a second-degree crime under 2C:39-5b if you illegally transport a handgun or otherwise possess it without a carry permit. The penalties for this violation are severe because you not only face 5-10 years in prison and a $150,000 but also since the offense falls under the Graves Act. What this means is that a mandatory minimum period of incarceration (i.e. 3 years) must be imposed at the time of sentencing.
  • Possession of a Firearm For An Unlawful Purpose. It is a second-degree crime to possess a firearm for an unlawful purpose. The same second-degree penalties apply in this context, along with the application of the Graves Act.
  • Possession of a Firearm During CDS Activities or Bias Offense. It is a second-degree crime to violate N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1 by possessing a firearm during the course of committing CDS/drug distribution or while committing a bias offense. What is most significant about this offense is that it cannot merge into a charge for unlawful possession and the term of imprisonment for this violation must be served consecutive (i.e. cannot begin until the sentence on the unlawful possession is completed).
  • Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun. It is totally illegal to possess a sawed 0ff shotgun under any circumstance in NJ. You face 3-5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 if convicted for this third-degree crime.
  • Possession of a Gun by a Certain Person.  Possession of a gun of any nature results in a second-degree crime where the accused has a prior conviction for a serious offense like aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, or distribution of CDS.  The penalties for this gun offense include 5-10 years in prison and, worse yet, a period of parole ineligibility of at least 5 years.
  • Possession of a Defaced Firearm. It is a fourth-degree crime in accordance with 2C:39-3d to possess a firearm whose serial number, model, or other identifying information is defaced. You could be sentenced to as much as 18 months in prison and fined $10,000 for this offense.
  • Possession of an Assault Rifle. Assault firearms cannot be possessed in NJ without exposure to a second-degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5f. A conviction triggers a prison sentence of 5-10 years and a fine of up to $150,000.

Is There A Way To Obtain A Waiver From The Penalties Required Under the Graves Act?

The mandatory sentencing requirements of the New Jersey Graves Act are intended to create uniformity across the state. In order to ensure that waivers from the mandatory minimum term called for under the Graves Act are granted in a consistent manner, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.2 was adopted by the legislature. This law allows for probation or even Pretrial Intervention (“PTI”) for a first time offender provided the prosecutor makes a motion before the assignment judge stating that the interests of justice would not be served by imposing a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. This is commonly referred to as a Graves Act Waiver.

How Do You Beat A Gun Charge To Avoid These Penalties?

There are are many defenses to a gun charge that can allow you to avoid the penalties previously set forth. The most frequent basis for attacking a gun offense so that a defendant escapes penalties is to challenge the search and seizure.  The police must possess probable cause and exigent circumstances (i.e immediate need) in order to conduct a search without a valid search warrant issued by a Superior Court judge. This constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure applies to any area where you would have a reasonable expectation of privacy including, but not limited to, your car or residence.  You should also know that, even if you consented to the search, you may nevertheless win the case based on the fact that the police were on a fishing expedition unsupported by probable and reasonable basis to believe you were in possession of a gun or something else of a criminal nature.  The point is that the police cannot simply request consent to search and must have some factual basis to believe that contraband was in your custody or control. There are many other bases for a motion to suppress the evidence and avoid a gun conviction and penalties.

Contact Our Talented NJ Gun Lawyers To Discuss Your Case

The stakes are obviously extremely high in a gun case. You face penalties that will have a direct impact on your freedom since almost every firearm offense triggers a prison term if convicted. This is why selecting the best attorney you can identify is imperative to your future. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are more than happy to discuss your charges in detail and advise you on how we can help avert the severe consequences of a conviction. Call us at 877-450-8301 for a free consultation at any time of day or night. A lawyer on our team is ready to assist you immediately.