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Possession of a Prohibited Weapon

The content of this page is limited to a discussion of those weapons that are illegal under N.J.S. 2C:39-3. The discussion here does no involve the entirely different issues associated with a handgun license or licensing of shotguns and rifles. There are basically nine (9) categories of prohibited weapons and devices: (1) destructive devices; (2) sawed-off shotguns; (3) silencers; (4) defaced firearms; (5) certain weapons;  (6) dum-dum or body penetrating bullets; (7) stun guns; (8) handcuffs; and (9) high capacity ammunition magazine. Other than handcuffs, possession of any of these weapons is an indictable crimes (i.e. a felony). Give our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, a call for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been charged in accordance with N.J.S. 2C:39-3. An experienced illegal weapon (a.k.a. prohibited weapon) defense lawyer, perhaps one of our many former prosecutors, will be happy to assist you.

Degree of Crime for Possessing These Weapons

The severity of a prohibited/illegal weapon charge hinges on the type of item involved. The following addresses each class of item and the associated degree of offense.

Destructive Device. This is a third degree crime. “Destructive device” is defined as any instrument designed to explode or cause uncontrolled combustion.

Silencer. This is a fourth degree crime.

Sawed off shotgun. This is also a third degree crime.

Defaced firearm. It is a fourth degree crime to possess a firearm where the maker, model number, or serial number has been removed, altered or destroyed.

Body penetrating bullets (e.g. hollow tip bullets, teflon coated bullets, etc.). Fourth degree crime as well.

Other prohibited weapons (Stun gun, billy club, blackjack, brass knuckles, switchblade, etc.). These are fourth degree crimes when there is no lawful purpose for the possession.
• Stun guns  This is a crime of the fourth degree as well.

Handcuffs where the intended use is not for lawful purposes. A conviction for illegally possessing handcuffs is a disorderly persons offense.

What Proof Must Be Presented to Prove A Prohibited Weapon Charge?

The state must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the item was one that is illegal under 2C:39-3, that the accused possessed the item (actually or constructively), and that he/she knew that they possessed the weapon.

Can Certain Individuals Possess These Weapons?

There are exceptions that apply that allow individuals with certain status/employment to have possession of an object that would otherwise be considered an illegal weapon. On duty members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers, licensed firearms dealers, are a few of the classes of individuals that are exempted from some of the prohibited weapon categories.

Penalties for Possessing a Prohibited Weapon

For a fourth degree weapon crime, the state prison term is up to 18 months and the fine can reach $10,000. A crime of the third degree carries a maximum period of imprisonment of 5 years and a fine of up to $15,000. An individual may be sentenced to a county jail term of 6 months and fined $1,000. All of the aforesaid grades of offense are eligible for diversion through Pretrial Intervention or, in the case of a DP, Conditional Discharge.

If you were arrested at Newark International Airport or anywhere else in Essex County NJ for possessing an illegal weapon, don’t hesitate to contact us at 973-710-1520. Initial consultations are always free of charge.