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.