NJ 2C:39-3. Prohibited weapons and devices.

Defending NJ 2C:39-3.  Prohibited weapons and devices.

After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Prohibited weapons and devices) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case.  The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor.  Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation.

What is Possession of Prohibited Weapons and Devices?

In New Jersey, certain weapons are absolutely prohibited. Among those items covered by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3 are Dum-Dum, hollow nose bullets, or armor penetrating bullets. The legislative intent behind the statute is to keep this particular ammunition and certain weapons or devices off the streets because it has the potential to cause serious damage to civilians and police officers alike. It is important to remember that possession alone is enough to be convicted under this statute. There is no requirement that the prohibited items are actually used or that the person in possession has the intent to use them.

How Will the Prosecutor Convict Me?

The prosecutor must prove three things in order to get a conviction for possession of a prohibited weapon or device. It must be established that: the bullet or item in question must be submitted into evidence; the defendant possessed, or had under his or her control the item submitted into evidence; and that the defendant acted knowingly. The prosecutor must prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. The prosecutor may convict you on a number of different theories of possession.

First, he or she may show actual possession. This is where the prohibited items are actually found on your person and you know what the item is. The prosecutor can also prove possession under a theory of constructive possession. This is where the prosecutor can show that, while you did not actually have the prohibited item in your possession, you know where it is and it is under your control. Last, the prosecutor may prove possession by showing that you jointly possessed (either by actual or constructive possession) the prohibited item with another person. In that case, both people in possession may be charged and convicted of weapons possession.

How Can I Defend Against the Prohibited Weapons Statute?

There are not many defenses against the prohibited weapons statute, as mere possession of a banned weapon or device is enough for a conviction. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to review your case in depth and will try to mitigate the penalties you face or may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges. A defense attorney will also be able to argue against actual, constructive or joint possession theories. It is important to not just plead guilty to the charge as it will have long lasting consequences. Call Villani & DeLuca to discuss your weapons possession charge immediately.

Penalties for a Conviction

The prohibited weapons and devices statute is extremely detailed in its description of the banned items. Depending on what you are caught with, you could face third or forth degree criminal penalties. If convicted of a third degree criminal penalty, you could face up to a $15,000 fine, a prison sentence of up to 5 years, probation, possible community service and other administrative costs. Calling an experienced criminal defense attorney will insure that you get a fair trial and that you will receive the best possible defense against your charges. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free initial consultation.

NJ Statute: 2C:39-3.  Prohibited weapons and devices.

a.Destructive devices.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any destructive device is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

b.Sawed-off shotguns.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any sawed-off shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

c.Silencers.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm silencer is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

d.Defaced firearms.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm which has been defaced, except an antique firearm or an antique handgun, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

e.Certain weapons.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any gravity knife, switchblade knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, billy, blackjack, metal knuckle, sandclub, slingshot, cestus or similar leather band studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, ballistic knife, without any explainable lawful purpose, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

f.Dum-dum or body armor penetrating bullets.  (1) Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or persons engaged in activities pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-6, who knowingly has in his possession any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet, or (2) any person, other than a collector of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics as defined in Title 18, United States Code, section 921 (a) (13) and has in his possession a valid Collector of Curios and Relics License issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who knowingly has in his possession any body armor breaching or penetrating ammunition, which means:  (a) ammunition primarily designed for use in a handgun, and (b) which is comprised of a bullet whose core or jacket, if the jacket is thicker than.025 of an inch, is made of tungsten carbide, or hard bronze, or other material which is harder than a rating of 72 or greater on the Rockwell B. Hardness Scale, and (c) is therefore capable of breaching or penetrating body armor, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  For purposes of this section, a collector may possess not more than three examples of each distinctive variation of the ammunition described above. A distinctive variation includes a different head stamp, composition, design, or color.

g.Exceptions.  (1)  Nothing in subsection a., b., c., d., e., f., j. or k. of this section shall apply to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard, or except as otherwise provided, to any law enforcement officer while actually on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty, provided that his possession of the prohibited weapon or device has been duly authorized under the applicable laws, regulations or military or law enforcement orders.  Nothing in subsection h. of this section shall apply to any law enforcement officer who is exempted from the provisions of that subsection by the Attorney General.  Nothing in this section shall apply to the possession of any weapon or device by a law enforcement officer who has confiscated, seized or otherwise taken possession of said weapon or device as evidence of the commission of a crime or because he believed it to be possessed illegally by the person from whom it was taken, provided that said law enforcement officer promptly notifies his superiors of his possession of such prohibited weapon or device.

(2)  a.  Nothing in subsection f. (1) shall be construed to prevent a person from keeping such ammunition at his dwelling, premises or other land owned or possessed by him, or from carrying such ammunition from the place of purchase to said dwelling or land, nor shall subsection f. (1) be construed to prevent any licensed retail or wholesale firearms dealer from possessing such ammunition at its licensed premises, provided that the seller of any such ammunition shall maintain a record of the name, age and place of residence of any purchaser who is not a licensed dealer, together with the date of sale and quantity of ammunition sold.

b.Nothing in subsection f.(1) shall be construed to prevent a designated  employee or designated licensed agent for a nuclear power plant under the license of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from possessing hollow nose ammunition while in the actual performance of his official duties, if the federal licensee certifies that the designated employee or designated licensed agent is assigned to perform site protection, guard, armed response or armed escort duties and is appropriately trained and qualified, as prescribed by federal regulation, to perform those duties.

(3)Nothing in paragraph (2) of subsection f. or in subsection j. shall be construed to prevent any licensed retail or wholesale firearms dealer from possessing that ammunition or large capacity ammunition magazine at its licensed premises for sale or disposition to another licensed dealer, the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard, or to a law enforcement agency, provided that the seller maintains a record of any sale or disposition to a law enforcement agency.  The record shall include the name of the purchasing agency, together with written authorization of the chief of police or highest ranking official of the agency, the name and rank of the purchasing law enforcement officer, if applicable, and the date, time and amount of ammunition sold or otherwise disposed. A copy of this record shall be forwarded by the seller to the Superintendent of the Division of State Police within 48 hours of the sale or disposition.

(4)Nothing in subsection a. of this section shall be construed to apply to antique cannons as exempted in subsection d. of N.J.S.2C:39-6.

(5)Nothing in subsection c. of this section shall be construed to apply to any person who is specifically identified in a special deer management permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife to utilize a firearm silencer as part of an alternative deer control method implemented in accordance with a special deer management permit issued pursuant to section 4 of P.L.2000, c.46 (C.23:4-42.6), while the person is in the actual performance of the permitted alternative deer control method and while going to and from the place where the permitted alternative deer control method is being utilized.  This exception shall not, however, otherwise apply to any person to authorize the purchase or possession of a firearm silencer.

h.Stun guns.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any stun gun is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

i.Nothing in subsection e. of this section shall be construed to prevent any guard in the employ of a private security company, who is licensed to carry a firearm, from the possession of a nightstick when in the actual performance of his official duties, provided that he has satisfactorily completed a training course approved by the Police Training Commission in the use of a nightstick.

j.Any person who knowingly has in his possession a large capacity ammunition magazine is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree unless the person has registered an assault firearm pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12) and the magazine is maintained and used in connection with participation in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship of the United States Department of the Army.

k.Handcuffs.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession handcuffs as defined in P.L.1991, c.437 (C.2C:39-9.2), under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as handcuffs may have, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.  A law enforcement officer shall confiscate handcuffs possessed in violation of the law.

L.1978, c.95; amended 1979, c.179, s.2; 1983, c.58, s.1; 1983, c.479, s.2; 1985, c.360, s.2; 1987, c.228, s.2; 1989, c.11; 1990, c.32, s.10; 1991, c.437, s.1; 1999, c.233, s.2; 2000, c.46, s.5; 2003, c.168, s.1.

AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:39-3, Violation 2C:39-3, Offense 2C:39-3

Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.

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