NJ 2C:39-5. Unlawful possession of weapons.

Defending NJ 2C:39-5.  Unlawful possession of weapons.

After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Unlawful possession of weapons) 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 the Unlawful Possession of Weapons?

In New Jersey, firearms and other weapons are very closely monitored. Nearly every firearm requires the owner to be licensed to have one. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly have in his or her possession any weapon that is not appropriate under the law. Basically, this means that you must go through the necessary licensing procedures to obtain a firearm, gun or any other weapon. In other words, you must have a lawful purpose for owning the gun or weapon and you must be licensed to do so.

The statute covers a number of different classifications of weapons such as handguns, machine guns, rifles, shotguns and assault firearms. The handgun section of the statute is very detailed and includes any gun that uses a propelling force of a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, other gas or vapor, air or compressed air to propel a bullet or missile smaller than one-eighth of an inch.

Can I be Convicted of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon?

In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction under the law, he must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt: the item is a weapon; the defendant possessed the weapon knowingly; and the defendant’s possession of the weapon was under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for a lawful use. The prosecutor must show that the item in question was in fact a weapon and that it was intended to be used as a weapon by the possessor. There are exceptions in the statute for certain people that are appropriately licensed to obtain and own a gun such as police officers, investigators and certain private citizens.

Defending Against Unlawful Possession of Weapons

Defending against these charges can be rather difficult, but an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to analyze your case and provide the best course of action. If your attorney can show that you did have a lawful use for the gun or weapon, the charges may even be dropped or reduced. It is very important to always follow the proper licensing procedures and obey the guidelines of the statute. If you are unsure about whether you can obtain a weapon, consult with an experienced attorney who can effectively interpret the law based on your unique situation.

Penalties for a Conviction Under Unlawful Possession of Weapons

Depending on which section of the statute you were charged under, you could face up to second degree criminal penalties. The penalties for a second degree indictable offense in New Jersey include up to 10 years in prison, up to a $150,000 fine, probation and other fines and administrative costs. If you have been charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon, it is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free initial consultation.

NJ Statute: 2C:39-5.  Unlawful possession of weapons.

a.         Machine guns.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession a machine gun or any instrument or device adaptable for use as a machine gun, without being licensed to do so as provided in N.J.S.2C:58-5, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

b.Handguns.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including any antique handgun, without first having obtained a permit to carry the same as provided in N.J.S.2C:58-4, is guilty of a crime of the third degree if the handgun is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.  Otherwise it is a crime of the second degree.

c.Rifles and shotguns.  (1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any rifle or shotgun without having first obtained a firearms purchaser identification card in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.2C:58-3, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(2)Unless otherwise permitted by law, any person who knowingly has in his possession any loaded rifle or shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

d.Other weapons.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

e.Firearms or other weapons in educational institutions.

(1)Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, is guilty of a crime of the third degree, irrespective of whether he possesses a valid permit to carry the firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card.

(2)Any person who knowingly possesses any weapon enumerated in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection r. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 or any components which can readily be assembled into a firearm or other weapon enumerated in subsection r. of N.J.S.2C:39-1 or any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful use as it may have, while in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

(3)Any person who knowingly has in his possession any imitation firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, or while on any school bus is a disorderly person, irrespective of whether he possesses a valid permit to carry a firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card.

f.Assault firearms.  Any person who knowingly has in his possession an assault firearm is guilty of a crime of the second degree except if the assault firearm is licensed pursuant to N.J.S.2C:58-5; registered pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-12); or rendered inoperable pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1990, c.32 (C.2C:58-13).

g. (1) The temporary possession of a handgun, rifle or shotgun by a person receiving, possessing, carrying or using the handgun, rifle, or shotgun under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.74 (C.2C:58-3.1) shall not be considered unlawful possession under the provisions of subsection b. or c. of this section.

(2)The temporary possession of a firearm by a person receiving, possessing, carrying or using the firearm under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.375 (C.2C:58-3.2) shall not be considered unlawful possession under the provisions of this section.

h.A person who is convicted of a crime under subsection a., b. or f. of this section shall be ineligible for participation in any program of intensive supervision; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to a crime under subsection b. involving only a handgun which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.

i.A person convicted of violating subsection a., b. or f. of this section shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment, which shall include the imposition of a minimum term during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole, if the court finds that the aggravating circumstance set forth in paragraph (5) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 applies.  The minimum term of parole ineligibility shall be fixed at five years.  The sentencing court shall make a finding on the record as to whether the aggravating circumstance set forth in paragraph (5) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 applies, and the court shall presume that there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant is involved in organized criminal activity if there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant is a member of an organization or group that engages in criminal activity.  The prosecution at the sentencing hearing shall have the initial burden of producing evidence or information concerning the defendant’s membership in such an organization or group.

Amended 1979, c.179, s.4; 1990, c.32, s.2; 1992, c.74, s.2; 1992, c.94, s.1; 1995, c.389; 1997, c.375, s.2; 2007, c.284; 2009, c.13.

AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:39-5, Violation 2C:39-5, Offense 2C:39-5

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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