Possessing a Paintball or BB Gun May be a Crime
In New Jersey, possession of weapons such as a BB pellet gun or paintball gun is now illegal. Even though most people would consider these guns innocuous and harmless, as long as they're used responsibly and for their intended purposes, they are still considered to be illegal firearms. What makes matters worse is that these guns are commonly in the possession of juveniles who may not be aware that they fall into the category of being a firearm and will result in the juvenile being arrested.
There are several laws in New Jersey pertaining to air rifles, BB pellet guns and paintball guns and each can affect a juvenile in a different way depending on the circumstances. Therefore it is important that the potential crimes of possession and using one of these weapons is understood by the juvenile and his or her parents.
Juvenile Possession of BB Pellet Guns
Under New Jersey law, police can charge a juvenile with a fourth degree crime if the juvenile is found possessing or using a BB pellet gun. In general, this is not considered a serious offense as long as the weapon isn't being used for criminal purposes, and the punishment imposed by the court is generally something like community service.
If the weapon is used in an unlawful manner against another person or against the property of another person, or the juvenile makes the mistake of bringing it to school, then the charges begin to grow more serious. This would result in a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm in the third degree under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. While the punishment might vary depending on the circumstances, the juvenile can face up to three years in jail for this infraction.
Juvenile Possession of BB Pellet Pistols
A BB pellet pistol is subject to the same laws, charges and punishments above, but there is an added threat if the juvenile is caught with this type of weapon. Under New Jersey law, this spring action weapon is treated the same as a handgun, so a valid NJ handgun permit is necessary to possess a BB pistol. Breaking this law is a third degree crime. There is a small break for a juvenile, however. If a youth under age 21 possesses, uses, obtains, carries or fires a BB pellet pistol and doesn't have proper supervision, it is a crime in the fourth degree. A sentence for being convicted of this crime would probably be community service, paying a fine or enrollment in an intervention-type program.
Juvenile Possession of Paintball Guns
Under New Jersey law, paintball guns are judged to be less serious than the BB gun because they're not considered to be firearms, but are still viewed as weapons. New Jersey law defines a firearm as a weapon that can inflict serious injury or be used in a lethal way. Because a paintball gun is not viewed as having that kind of danger, it is a fourth degree crime to be caught carrying one when not using it for its legal purpose. The fourth degree offense can result in as much as a year in juvenile detention if the juvenile is being charged with a first offense. It is also illegal for a juvenile to have their paintball gun on any New Jersey school property.
Like the BB pellet gun, if it is used against another person or property, the police can charge the juvenile with a third degree crime. For a third degree charge, the punishment can be up to two years in juvenile detention.
Contact an Attorney if Charged with a Paintball or BB Gun Offense
What could have begun as a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the law could lead to an otherwise law abiding juvenile to be arrested and face jail time due to breaking the law for possession of a BB pellet gun or paintball gun. The experienced attorneys at Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey are here to help you if you were charged with possessing or using one of these weapons in Monmouth County or Ocean County. All Villani & DeLuca lawyers offer free initial consultations so call today!