New Jersey Weapons Charges Defense Lawyers
If a gun or another weapon is used in the commission of a crime, state and federal laws typically provide for harsher punishment upon conviction than for a crime committed without a weapon. In certain situations, possession of a firearm by itself is a crime under New Jersey law.
Anyone charged with a weapons offense in New Jersey should secure experienced legal help at their first opportunity. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney experienced with weapons charges can begin work right away to have the criminal charges against you reduced, dismissed, or deferred so that you may avoid prison and/or expensive fines.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has one of the largest and most seasoned criminal defense teams in New Jersey. Our defense attorneys have extensive experience defending clients facing a wide range of weapon offenses. Our weapons defense law firm has unique credentials that you won’t find elsewhere including:
- More than 200 years of combined experience defending individuals charged with weapons offenses in New Jersey
- Ten N.J. defense attorneys who focus exclusively on representing people accused of crimes
- Certified criminal trial attorneys, indicating specialized training in criminal law litigation. It’s a distinction achieved by less than 2% of licensed attorneys in New Jersey
- A legal team that brings to each case insider knowledge as former prosecutors and public defenders. Our attorneys have served as county and municipal prosecutors and leaders of a Guns Task Force, Major Crimes Bureau, Special Operations Units, Domestic Violence Unit, and a Trial Division. They will use that experience to defend you.
- A successful track record that includes numerous criminal trials resulting in dismissals
- 24/7 availability to respond to your need for legal representation.
If you are facing weapons charges in New Jersey, you want a defense lawyer with the experience of our legal team fighting on your behalf. For a free consultation to discuss your weapons charges with a highly qualified New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall online or at 877-328-0980. Our attorneys can represent you on weapons charges anywhere in New Jersey.
Weapons Charges and Penalties Under NJ Law
Weapons charges in New Jersey typically refer to unlawful use or possession of a handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, knife, razor, or box cutter. Under the right circumstances, anything – bats, bottles, hammers, pipes, or other objects – can be categorized as a weapon, depending on how it is used or what occurs.
In many cases, a weapons charge is a secondary offense added to another criminal charge, such as assault, robbery, or another crime of violence. The presence of a firearm or other weapon during the commission of a crime may create a new, more serious charge, such as assault being elevated to aggravated assault because a deadly weapon was allegedly used to threaten or harm someone.
The potential weapons charges available to police and prosecutors are numerous. Some of the more commonly charged weapons offenses and gun charges that our law firm handles include:
- Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purpose
- Possession of a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle
- Possession of a Handgun without a Permit or License
- Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun Without a Permit or License
- Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Crime
- Possession of a Weapon or Firearm at an Educational Institution
- Possession of a Weapon or Firearm During Commission of a Drug Offense
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, such as Gun Possession by a Convicted Felon or while on Probation or Parole
- Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, such as Robbery or Assault
- Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile
- Use of a Gun in a Federal Drug Crime
- Failure to Surrender a Gun while on Conditional Release or after a Domestic Violence Arrest
- Offenses involving a BB gun, Airsoft Gun or Paintball Gun
- Illegal Weapons
- Imitation Firearm Offenses
- Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons Offenses.
Typically, weapons charges are filed as felony crimes of the second- to fourth-degree.
Charges and penalties for basic weapons offenses (not including charges for assault, robbery, etc., with a deadly weapon) include:
- Second-degree offense: 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Third-degree offense: 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- Fourth-degree offense: Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you face weapons charges in New Jersey, you’ll need experienced legal representation to minimize your exposure to significant prison time and the potentially heavy fines that are often handed down upon conviction.
Mandatory Weapons Charge Sentencing Under New Jersey’s Graves Act
New Jersey has two mandatory sentencing laws that apply to convictions for gun and weapons charges – the Graves Act and the No Early Release Act, or NERA. The laws were enacted to ensure that convicted defendants serve sentences handed down by local Superior Courts.
The Graves Act (codified as N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c)) requires a minimum prison sentence for most gun offenses that includes a period with no eligibility for parole. Parole ineligibility is to be imposed for one third to one half of the full sentence, or 3 years, whichever is greater. For conviction of a second or subsequent firearms offense, the period of parole ineligibility is 5 years. Those convicted of a fourth-degree offense must serve the full 18-month sentence.
Originally the Graves Act applied only when a person was convicted of possessing or using a firearm while in the course of committing certain crimes, or Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes. It has been amended to apply to conviction on charges of:
- Unlawful Possession of a Machine Gun, Handgun, Rifle or Shotgun
- Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun
- Possession of a Defaced Firearm
- Possession of a Firearm While in the Course of Committing a Drug Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute Offense
- Possession of Certain Weapons by Persons Previously Convicted of Specified Offenses
- Manufacture, Transport, or Disposition of a Machine Gun, Sawed-Off Shotgun, or Assault Firearm
- Defacement of a Firearm.
A conviction of unlawful possession of a machine gun, handgun, or assault rifle is accompanied by ineligibility for parole for 5 years if the court finds the defendant and/or crime was connected to organized crime activity.
If you are convicted of a Graves Act offense after a prior conviction for certain firearms offenses, the court must impose a mandatory extended term of imprisonment. The extended sentence must include ineligibility for parole set for one third to one half of the extended sentence, or 5 years, whichever is greater.
Parole Ineligibility Under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act
New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA) statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2) requires that defendants sentenced to prison for certain violent crimes serve 85% of the prison term before becoming eligible for parole. It also imposes parole supervision for 5 years after release from prison for a first-degree crime and 3 years for a second-degree crime.
The NERA applies to several first- and second-degree crimes of violence that may or may not be committed with a gun or another weapon:
- Aggravated Manslaughter
- Vehicular Homicide
- Aggravated Assault
- Disarming a Law Enforcement Officer
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Arson
- Booby traps in manufacturing or distributing facilities
- Strict liability for drug-induced deaths
- Producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents, or nuclear or radiological devices.
How Our Attorneys Can Help You Fight New Jersey Weapons Charges
Regardless of what occurred before or during your arrest or indictment for weapons charges, the courts of New Jersey must grant you the presumption of innocence until a court determines guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You have a Constitutional right to a strong legal defense that works to raise doubts about the charges against you and resolve your case in a manner favorable to you.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will develop a defense that refutes and raises doubt about the prosecution’s case against you. Often, the prosecutors know only the police account of what happened. All sides need to be heard. Our attorneys will work to make sure all the facts are known and your account of what occurred receives a fair hearing. We will seek to resolve the charges brought against you in a manner that is as favorable to you as possible.
Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as you are able. Once we are hired, we will begin work and may:
- Immediately secure your release for the lowest bail available or on your own recognizance, in some instances.
- Begin our investigation into the weapons charges against you, including obtaining statements from you and other witnesses and reviewing police reports and other evidence connected to the case. We will argue that disputable evidence be excluded from further proceedings.
- Identify holes in the prosecution’s case, such as:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Illegal arrest
- Failure to inform of Miranda rights
- Improper suspect lineup
- Unavailable witness
- False or impeachable witness testimony
- False or impeachable evidence
- Issues with chain of custody of weapons that is presented as evidence
- Inability to prove control of the weapon(s) allegedly seized upon your arrest
- Bias (racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, etc.)
- Other prosecutorial and/or police misconduct.
Once we have fully investigated your case, we will seek to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of your charges or pursue other alternatives to conviction as the evidence permits. There are potentially many opportunities to challenge weapons charges. Our attorneys include former prosecutors who can spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. The prosecutors know the weaknesses in their cases, and so do we. The circumstances surrounding such cases are often complex. It is not unusual to find that police did not have all of the facts at the time of an arrest or indictment.
New Jersey trial courts have a crowded criminal docket. Prosecutors will often make a deal to avoid a trial if the defendant is facing a first charge, no one was harmed, and no significant property damage occurred.
Our attorneys are respected and are able to negotiate deals for our clients because they have built working professional relationships with prosecutors in counties across New Jersey over decades of legal practice.
If your case must go to trial, our legal team will use the evidence gathered in our investigation as well as our extensive litigation experience to give you a strong defense that mitigates the impact of any evidence against you. Our attorneys prepare each weapons case as if it will go to trial. While every case is unique, our firm has a solid track record of obtaining not guilty verdicts.
N.J. Diversion Programs Available in lieu of Prosecuting Weapons Charges
New Jersey imposes harsh penalties for conviction of weapons charges, but the state is also interested in affording defendants the opportunity to avoid incarceration when possible. A first-time offender who had no violence associated with their case may be able to take advantage of a probationary program that keeps them out of prison.
These are programs meant for defendants who are serious about changing their lifestyle and potentially dealing with drug, alcohol, and/or psychological issues that may contribute to run-ins with the law. Weapons charges may be dismissed upon successful completion of a probationary program. The failure to abide by years-long requirements can result in immediate imposition of full sentences as if the defendant had been found guilty of all charges.
The programs are:
- Pretrial Intervention (PTI). This requires an average of 1 to 3 years under court-supervised probation, which includes regularly appearing before a judge for status updates. The judge may require the probationer to undergo psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluations and obtain counseling or complete a rehabilitation program and take random urine tests.
- Veterans’ Diversion. Active and retired armed service members charged with a nonviolent crime may enter diversion if they have been diagnosed with a mental illness or if law enforcement, family members, or friends testify that they have exhibited symptoms of mental illness. The program provides behavioral health and addiction counseling.
Your attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work with you and prosecutors to obtain a resolution to your weapons charges case that is as favorable to you as possible. Having on your side a criminal defense attorney who has litigation experience and established working relationships with local prosecutors ensures your best opportunity for avoiding conviction.
Contact Our NJ Law Offices About Weapons Charges in Monmouth County
The New Jersey attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can provide you with a strategic and effective defense against mandatory punishment available under weapons charges filed in New Jersey. Our legal team has more than 200 years of combined experience defending New Jersey residents like you or your loved one, including in cases involving unlawful possession or use of guns and other weapons.
An arrest is the beginning of a legal process that does not have to end in a guilty verdict. We can provide a defense that gives you a reason to be optimistic. If you or someone you love faces weapons charges in New Jersey, contact us today at (877) 450-8301 or online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney about your case.