NJ Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose Offense

A Former Director of the Guns Task Force & Other Highly Accomplished Ex Prosecutors At Our Firm Are Ready To Achieve The Very Best Outcome In Your Possession of a Firearm For An Unlawful Purpose Case

You need an experience NJ criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose such as using a handgun in a robbery or shooting.As if being charged with Possession of a Handgun Without a Permit or Unlawful Possession of a Rifle or Shotgun were not bad enough, a situation gets that more complicated in New Jersey when the firearm is being used for an Unlawful Purpose. Anyone arrested for such a combination of criminal offenses is facing multiple Second Degree crimes and years of potential jail time. It is absolutely imperative for those subject to gun charges such as these to retain a lawyer skilled in defending these types of cases. That is what you will achieve if you decide to hire the attorneys at our law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall. Our defense team possesses:

  • Over 200 years of combined experience defending individuals charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, including instances where the weapon is a handgun, shotgun or other firearm
  • Former county prosecutors and members of the NJ Attorney General’s Office that have served at the highest levels including as Director of the Gun Task Force, Major Crimes, Special Operations, Juvenile Division and even the entire Trial Division
  • Ten (10) lawyers whose practice is dedicated exclusively to the defense of the accused
  • Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys (less than 2% of those licensed in New Jersey have earned this distinction)
  • Countless stories of successful outcomes reached in cases involving weapon charges throughout the state

Please do not hesitate to contact an attorney on our staff at 1-877-450-8301 for a complimentary initial consultation. Lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case, including representation at an initial appearance, detention hearing or any other context. We also encourage you to refer to the legal information that follows regarding Unlawful Purpose charges with respect to a handgun, pistol, revolver, gun, rifle, shotgun or other firearm.

Firearms Possessed For An Unlawful Purpose in New Jersey

The offense commonly known as possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a). This law provides that “any person who has in his possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime.” Although this criminal charge is condensed in a single sentence, there are actually four separate elements that must be established, beyond reasonable doubt, by the prosecutor in order for a conviction to be obtained under the statute:

  1. The item was a Firearm;
  2. The firearm was Possessed by the Defendant;
  3. Defendant had the Purpose to Use it Against Person or Property of Another; and
  4. The Firearm was going to be used Unlawfully.

Each and every one of these elements must be proven by the prosecution for a suspect to be convicted under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a).

The definition of “firearm” for purposes of application of this law includes a handgun, pistol, revolver, shotgun, rifle or numerous other devices that fire a projectile.

Possessed or possession includes both actual direct custody of a firearm and constructive possession. Constructive possession has been defined by the courts in cases like State v. Brown, 67 N.J.Super. 450, 455 (App.Div.1961) as knowledge of the existence of the firearm accompanied with the ability and intention to exercise control over it.

There is no requirement that an individual or specific property be identified in order to satisfy the third requirement. However, possession alone will not establish the required purpose nor, for that matter, an intention to use it for something “unlawful”. Accordingly, where someone possesses a handgun or other firearm for sport, bona fide self-protection or in any other manner not intended to cause injury to another, then the requirement of bad purpose and unlawful use cannot be fulfilled.

Penalties for Unlawful Purpose Charges Involving a Firearm

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-2(a) makes possession of a gun, handgun, shotgun or other firearm a second degree crime where a defendant has the purpose to use it unlawfully against the property or person of another. A second degree offense exposes an individual to 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Additionally, the Graves Act applies to unlawful purposes arrests thereby trigger imposition of a mandatory period of parole ineligibility for those found guilty of this charge. A defendant must serve this period before they can be considered for release on parole or any other context.

Community Guns Possessed for an Unlawful Purpose

The New Jersey Unlawful Purpose Law contains a specific subsection that has been carved out for “community guns”. What we are referring to here are guns “transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.” Possession of a community firearm for an unlawful purpose is a second degree crime that carries 5 to 10 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 3 years during which the defendant is ineligible for parole. 

Contact Our Highly Skilled NJ Possession of a Firearm For An Unlawful Purpose Defense Lawyers

If you were arrested on a gun charge like possession of a firearm for unlawful purpose, there is no room for a mistake when it comes to selecting the right lawyer to defend your offense. You are unquestionably facing years in prison and a complicated minefield of laws that are intended to be very inflexible. This is precisely why you need representation by an attorney who is both highly knowledgeable and accomplished in defending firearm charges. The team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possesses these qualities and are ready to defend your interests. Lawyers are available immediately to provide you with guidance through this difficult process. Call us anytime 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301 to reach one of our experienced in handgun and firearm attorneys.