There are literally hundreds of scenarios under which a juvenile may be charged with a crime related to a weapon in Somerset County or Hunterdon County. Typically, the severity of this type of offense will hinge the purpose of the weapon possession. If it was for an unlawful purpose, for example, to commit a robbery or juvenile assault, charge will fall into a higher grade and carry more significant penalties. When an offense involves a firearm, even a BB, pellet, paintball or airsoft gun, illegal possession alone without any ill intent triggers potentially life changing consequences. If you child has been arrested and/or charged with a weapon offense, you absolutely need to hire an attorney immediately. Whether the arrest took place in Readington, Bridgewater, Franklin, Raritan, Hillsborough, North Plainfield or another town in these counties, the only place the charge may be heard is in the Family Division, Juvenile Part, in either Somerville or Flemington. You son or daughter is required to have a lawyer without exception when they walk into court and The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can serve you well in this regard. We are an 8 member defense team that possesses over 100 years of combined experience, including previously serving as prosecutors. Our attorneys have handled hundreds of weapons cases like yours and are available immediately for free consultation at 908-722-1011.
Illegal Possession of a Weapon by a Juvenile
The first group of juvenile weapon offenses we should talk about are those that arise from merely possessing a certain item. It is a crime of the third degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any destructive device. Destructive device is given a broad definition under the Code. A destructive device includes any instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion. An explosive bomb is only one type of destructive device. It is a crime of the third degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession a sawed-off shotgun. Sawed-off shotgun is defined in terms of barrel size. It means any shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than eighteen inches in length measured from the breach to the muzzle, or any firearm made from a rifle or shotgun, whether by alteration or otherwise if such firearm as modified has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
It is a crime of the fourth degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any firearm silencer. Firearm silencer means any instrument, attachment, weapon or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm to be silent, or that has the effect of lessening or muffling the noise of the firing of any gun or other firearm. Possession of a silencer and possession of a gun without a permit are two separate offenses and a person who possesses a gun and a silencer can be convicted of both. It is a crime of the fourth degree for any person to knowingly have in his possession any firearm which has been defaced unless the firearm is an antique firearm or an antique handgun. Defaced firearm means the maker, model designation, manufacturer’s serial number or any other distinguishing identification mark or number on a firearm has been either removed, defaced, covered, altered or destroyed.
Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose by a Juvenile
The second class of juvenile weapons offenses, as described above, are those that relate to possession for an unlawful purpose. The possession of either a firearm, explosive or destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the property or person of another is a crime of the second degree. Possession of a weapon other than a firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is a crime of the third degree, so this is a catch-all offense for any violation where something other than a firearm is possessed with the intent to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another. The key to this is the honest belief of the defendant as to the unlawful purpose. The state must prove that the defendant honestly believed they were going to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose.
On the other hand, since the defendant must possess the state of mind that they intended to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose, a legitimate defense would be to show that they possessed the firearm or other weapon for something not related to an unlawful purpose, such as for sport. Lastly, it is important to note that the operability of the weapon or firearm is not important for the purposes of this offense. If the person possesses a gun that cannot fire, this does not necessarily negate the offense. What matters is the person’s intention in having the weapon. It would still be a violation if it is a weapon possessed by the defendant with a purpose to use it against the person or property of another unlawfully.
The Graves Act & Juvenile Weapon Offenses
The Graves Act was enacted in an effort to stifle illegal firearms, especially handguns, by imposing mandatory jail sentences for anyone possessing these items without a proper license or permit. This law applies to juveniles as well as adult offenders. A juvenile in knowing possession of a handgun, including an antique handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry same is guilty of a crime of the second degree. However, if the gun is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air, or is ignited by compressed air and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than an inch in diameter, the crime is of the third degree. Like with machine guns, these people are also ineligible for parole or ISP if convicted of the second degree offense. Any juvenile who knowingly has in his or her possession any rifle or shotgun without first having obtained a firearms purchaser identification card is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
Juvenile Weapon Offense Defense Lawyer
If your child is facing a weapon offense in Somerville or Flemington, call our attorneys now. A lawyer at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is ready to protect the interests of your son or daughter by exhausting every available opportunity to reach a favorable outcome. We know how to preserve your child’s future and are available immediately at 908-722-1011 to begin the defense.