Defending NJ 2C:39-4. Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes.
After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes) 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 Weapons for Unlawful Purposes?
According to New Jersey Statute 2C:39-4, it is illegal for any person to have in his or her possession any weapon with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another. The statute covers such weapons as firearms, explosives, destructive devices, imitation firearms and other weapons. It is important to note that the term “weapon” is very broad in the statute. A weapon can mean virtually any object that can be brandished to cause death or serious bodily injury. Something as simple as a baseball bat may be considered a weapon, if it is intended to be used unlawfully against someone.
What Must the Prosecutor Show to Convict You for Weapons Possession?
The prosecutor must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. According to the model jury instructions, it must be proven that: the item in question is a weapon; the defendant possessed the weapon; the defendant possessed the weapon with the purpose to use it against the person or property of another; and the defendant's purpose was to use it unlawfully. These elements are not easy for the prosecution to prove because the jury is required to draw inferences about the defendant's state-of-mind from the defendant's own actions.
Defending Against a Weapons Possession Charge in NJ
Since the prosecutor may not have an easy time proving intent in your case, there are several possible defenses available. If your attorney can successfully place reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors as to your intent or lack thereof, you will not be convicted of the charge. Also, the prosecutor must prove that the object was in fact a weapon that was intended to be used as such. If your attorney can cast reasonable doubt on this element, the charges will not stand. It is important to consult with an attorney before pleading guilty to this charge, as a guilty plea will have serious immediate and future consequences.
Penalties for Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes
Depending on the type of weapon you are caught with, you could be charged as a second or third degree offender. Second degree crimes carry very heavy penalties such as up to a $150,000 fine, up to 10 years in prison, probation and other administrative costs. If you have been charged with the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to mitigate your penalties, reduce your charges, or even get the charges dropped. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free initial consultation about your New Jersey weapons charge.
NJ Statute: 2C:39-4. Possession of weapons for unlawful purposes.
a.Firearms. (1) Any person who has in his possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
(2)Any person who possesses, receives or transfers a community gun is guilty of a crime of the second degree and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater and during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. As used in this paragraph, “community gun” means a firearm that is transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
b.Explosives. Any person who has in his possession or carries any explosive substance with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
c.Destructive devices. Any person who has in his possession any destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the second degree.
d.Other weapons. Any person who has in his possession any weapon, except a firearm, with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
e.Imitation firearms. Any person who has in his possession an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
Amended 1979, c.179, s.3; 1989, c.120, s.2; 2007, c.24.
AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:39-4, Violation 2C:39-4, Offense 2C:39-4
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.