Camden County Possession A Firearm While Committing a CDS Offense

The Criminal Defense Lawyers In Our Camden Office Include a Former Director of the Guns Task Force, Major Crimes Bureau and the Entire Trial Division

An individual is exposed to a serious criminal charge if they possess a firearm while distributing or committing several other drug offenses. The law in question is N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1 (“weapons; controlled dangerous substances and other offenses, penalties”) and it makes it a second degree crime to be in possession of a firearm while committing, attempting to commit, or conspiring to commit certain CDS offenses. What is exceptionally significant about this offense is the fact that the prison term imposed must be run consecutive to any other time imposed for CDS activities. The consequences of a conviction are clearly extreme so representation by an accomplished Camden County criminal defense lawyer is an absolute imperative.

We are the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, a team of highly accomplished attorneys that have been defending complex drug and weapons charges at the county courthouse in Camden New Jersey for decades. Our rare and impressive credentials include:

  • 200 years of combined experience representing clients charged with a NJ unlawful possession of a handgun offense and other weapon violations
  • Ten (10) lawyers that dedicate their practices exclusively to defense
  • Former county prosecutors that have served as Director of Major Crimes, Gun Task Force, Juvenile Unit and the entire Trial Division
  • Certified criminal trial attorneys, a distinction possessed by less than two percent of those licensed in the state

If you were arrested on a gun and drug charges, you should definitely consider contacting our Camden NJ Office to speak to a knowledge criminal attorney. A lawyer can be reached for a free consultation 24/7 by calling (856) 288-3350.

When Can Someone Be Charged With Possession of a Firearm While Committing a CDS Offense In Camden County?

An individual may be charged with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1 if they possess a handgun, rifle, shotgun, assault weapon or other firearm while committing one of the following drug offenses:

  • 2C:35-3 – Leader of Narcotics Trafficking Network
  • 2C:35-4 – Maintaining or Operating a CDS Production Facility
  • 2C:35-5 – Manufacturing, Distributing or Dispensing CDS
  • 2C:35-5.2 – Manufacturing or Distributing Gamma Hydroxybutyrate
  • 2C:35-5.3 – Manufacturing or Distributing Flunitrazepam
  • 2C:35-6 – Employing a Juvenile in a Drug Distribution Scheme
  • 2C:35-7 – Distribution of Drugs Within 1,000 Feet of School Property
  • 2C:35-7.1 – Distribution of CDS Within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Housing Project
  • 2C:35-11 – Distribution of Imitation Controlled Dangerous Substances
  • 2C:16-1 – Bias intimidation

How Does The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Prove A Charge Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1?

There is three (3) elements that must be established in order for the state to prove this charge. The prosecutor must prove that: (1) the item in question was a firearm; (2) it was possessed by the accused; and (3) this conduct occurred during course of committing, attempting to commit, or conspiring to commit one of the drug/cds charges set forth under the previous heading.

The term “firearm” encompasses a handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances.

An individual possesses a firearm in violation of 2C:39-4.1 if they have or had a conscious object to knowingly control the item. Possession can be actual, meaning that someone has  direct physical control over the firearm, or it may be constructive. Constructive possession arises when an individual lacks current direct control over the firearm but is aware of the presence of the device and is able to and has the intention to exercise control over it.

The third element of proof is that the defendant possessed the firearm while in the course of committing, attempting to commit, or conspiring to commit a drug offense falling under 2c:39-4.1. An individual “attempts” if he/she purposely engages in conduct prohibited by the predicate CDS offense. Someone “conspires” to commit a charge if they have a purpose to promote or facilitate the commission of the drug crime (e.g. agreed with another person(s) to engage in conduct which constitutes the drug crime or to attempt or solicitation to commit the same).

What Are The Penalties For Possessing A Firearm During The Course of Committing A CDS Offense?

As previously stated, it is a second degree crime to violate 2C:39-4.1. The standard penalties that apply for such a violation include 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The court is also required to impose a period of parole ineligibility that results in a mandatory minimum term that must be served. The term of parole ineligibility “shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater” in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:44-6c.

Merger Prohibited. This sentence cannot merge with a separate one imposed for drug activities such as distribution of heroin, cocaine, marijuana or another CDS/drugs.

Consecutive Prison Term. The judge presiding over your case is required to sentence you to a consecutive term of imprisonment, in other words, the period of imprisonment for violating 2C:39-4.1 cannot begun until any period imposed under Title 35 (i.e. Drug Offenses in New Jersey) is fully served.

Camden County Defense Lawyers Possession of a Handgun While Distributing CDS

A drug arrest clearly becomes more risky if it involves possession of a shotgun, rifle or handgun. You are not only exposed to severe penalties for your drug offense but also subject to a separate second degree crime that carries a consecutive prison sentence. Selecting an attorney that is highly skilled in defending Camden County drug and weapon charges is an imperative when this occurs. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can serve you well in this role with a team of talented litigators that have an extensive track record of success. Call (856) 288-3350 to reach a lawyer in our Camden Office.