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Possession Of An Illegal Handgun

Possession Of An Unlicensed Handgun In Essex County NJ

On August 8, 2013, the offense known as unlawful possession of a handgun set forth at N.J.S. 2C:39-5 was enhanced in certain instances to a first degree crime, the most severe grade of criminal offense under New Jersey law. And even when this extreme does not apply, it is nevertheless a second degree crime to possess a handgun without a permit in accordance with the 2013 amendment of 2C:39-5.  What this means is that if you are convicted for possessing a handgun illegally, you are supposed to serve at least five (5) years in prison and can be sentenced to as many as twenty (20) at the extreme (i.e. first degree unlawful possession).  These are extraordinary penalties and exceptional lawyering is needed to avoid these consequences. We can offer you top flight experience and skill to insure that your best arguments are effectively made to help you escape many of the ramifications of a conviction for possessing an unlicensed handgun. You can reach an attorney on our staff anytime 24/7 at 973-710-1520. Call our Newark Criminal Firm today.

Possession a Handgun Without a Permit: What You Need To Be Legal In New Jersey

Before an individual may possess a handgun legally in NJ, he/she must undergo an intense licensing process. The requirements to obtain a license are extremely stringent and handgun permits are frequently denied. However, if an individual is fortunate enough to satisfying the requirements to obtain a license, a permit to own a handgun will be issued. While this permit permits someone to own a handgun, it does not provide the holder with the ability to “carry” the weapon. A carry permit is a very different animal, one which is sparingly issued, and only where there is a particularized need to possess a concealed pistol, revolver or other version of a handgun. And even if an individual possesses a carry permit from another state, that license ceases to exist in almost all instances when that person crosses the border into New Jersey. What this means is that if you are a trucker who makes a stop in New Jersey and are found in possession of a loaded handgun that is unlicensed in this state, then you unlawfully possess the handgun. Similarly, if you cross the border from New York or Pennsylvania into New Jersey with a handgun, you better have a carry permit in New Jersey, otherwise, you may be convicted of a very serious crime. The grading of the offense will be established as follows:

  • Possession of an Illegal Handgun, Shotgun, Rifle, or Other Firearm By Someone Previously Convicted of a Crime of Violence. If the accused has previously been convicted of a crime involving violence (i.e. one that triggered application of the No Early Release Act), then possession of an unlicensed handgun is a first degree crime.
  • Possession of a Handgun Without a Permit. It is a second degree crime to knowingly possess a handgun without first obtaining a permit to carry pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:58-4.
  • Possession of Pellet, BB, or Other Air/Spring Gun. It is a third degree crime under NJ law to possess one of these devices without a permit.

The illegal handgun violation set forth here must, however, be distinguished from the entirely separate offense of attempting to purchase or acquire a handgun without a permit. That is an entirely different and independent fourth degree crime. Another important consideration to keep in mind is that 2C:39-5 does not apply to a weapon that is incapable for firing because something other than absent ammunition/cartridge or a minor repair.

What Does The Prosecutor Have To Prove To Convict Someone For Illegally Possessing a Handgun?

There are essentially three (3) elements that must be proven by the state on a charge of possession of a handgun without a permit. Each element must be established beyond reasonable doubt and they include:

  1. The object in question is a handgun;
  2. The accused knowingly possessed the handgun; and
  3. The accused has no permit for the handgun.

An item qualifies as a “handgun” if it is designed to fire or eject a bullet, slug, pellet or other projectile through an explosive reaction and is to be held with a single hand. A person knowingly possesses when he or she is aware that, at a minimum, there is a high probability that the weapon exists and there they have or had an intention to exercise control over it. The final element is satisfied if the accused fails to hold a valid carry permit.

What Are The Penalties for Possessing An Illegal Handgun?

Possession of an unlicensed handgun in the first degree results in 10-20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000. A second degree illegal handgun conviction results in 5-10 years in jail and a fine as high as $150,000. Third degree possession of a handgun without a carry permit triggers a state prison term of up to 5 years in jail and a fine that can reach $15,000. In addition, the Graves Act applies to all unlicensed handgun offenses thereby requiring that a period of parole ineligibility be attached to any prison sentence imposed under N.J.S. 2C:39-5.

Newark NJ Illegal Handgun Attorneys

If you or a loved one was arrested for possession of a handgun without a permit, call us now. A skilled unlicensed handgun defense lawyer is prepared to fight so you have every opportunity to avoid jail. Just because the police charged you with having an illegal handgun, that does not mean you have to go to jail. A weapon charge defense lawyer is available at 973-710-1520 to help you.