Possessing a weapon is a very serious crime. If you have been charged with a weapon possession charge, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney to help you. At the law offices of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, we have several attorneys ready to help assist in your defense. The courts take weapon possession cases very seriously due to the potentially violent nature of the act. To make sure you are able to provide the best defense, make sure to contact us immediately to begin building your case.
What is a Weapon Possession Charge?
In New Jersey, a weapons possession charge is merely possessing a weapon and using it in a circumstance that was not manifestly appropriate for lawful use. What that simply means is that the offender not only had a weapon, but used it in a way that the law does not allow. Under the statute, a weapon can be classified as anything that can be used in a lethal manner or inflict serious bodily injury. This means that there are several things, besides guns and knives, that could potentially prompt a weapon possession charge.
Degrees of Weapons Charges in NJ
The degree, or severity, of a weapons charge is based on what type of weapon was discovered. The least severe punishment, known as a disorderly persons offense, is given out for weapons like handcuffs. For offenses considered to be fourth degree, the weapon the offender was discovered with is something more dangerous. Such weapons include silencers, defaced firearms, knives, clubs, metal knuckles, sling shots, stun guns and large capacity ammunition magazines. For an offender to be charged with a third degree weapons charge, the offender must be found with destructive devices or sawed-off shotguns. A second degree weapons charge is the harshest of all charges. This charge is reserved for those found in possession of unlicensed guns, machine guns, assault firearms and handguns.
Defenses for Weapons Charges
Since all weapons possession cases are different, it is important to contact an experienced attorney in order to provide the best defense. A common defense for an offender charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon would be to argue the intent with which the person had the weapon. Related to this is whether or not the offender used the weapon, or if it was just merely in the individual's possession. A second possible defense would be if you were possessing the weapon in self-defense. Although this is a valid defense, it can only be used when the weapon is reasonably used for the purpose of defending oneself from serious bodily harm or death. This means that the offender can use a weapon, such as their fists, if he or she is responding to a genuine and compelling danger.
Sentencing for Weapons Charges
If a defendant is considered a danger to society, he or she can be held in jail until the case has been resolved. Depending on the verdict given, an offender can be sentenced to jail time for weapons possession. Besides incarceration, a judge could also order community service or probation. If the defendant is found guilty of a weapons possession charge that occurred in an educational institution, the crime is considered more severe and the punishment is a longer time of incarceration. If the prosecution can prove that the offender possessed weapons related to his or her membership in a gang, then the punishment increases to a mandatory five year term of incarceration. It is very serious to face a weapons charge in New Jersey. Contact Villani & DeLuca for a free review of your weapons charge.