New Jersey has some of the most restrictive weapons laws in the country. In fact, many people find themselves facing serious criminal charges without even realizing they were doing anything illegal. If you’ve been charged with a weapons crime in New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you get a fair result.
What is Considered a Weapon in New Jersey?
When you mention weapons charges, most people immediately think of gun laws. However, prosecutors can bring weapons charges against you for much more than just guns - New Jersey law defines a weapon as “anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury.” As a result, the following would be included in New Jersey’s definition of a weapon:
As you may notice, New Jersey’s definition of a weapon is extraordinarily broad and can include almost anything, provided that it is capable of causing serious bodily harm. As a result, you can wind up charged with a weapons violation without even realizing that you were carrying a weapon.
Common New Jersey Weapons Charges
New Jersey’s laws pertaining to weapons are complex and can be difficult for non-lawyers to understand. However, weapons charges typically fall into one of the five following categories:
New Jersey’s weapons laws are extremely broad, and it’s very easy for people to find themselves charged with a crime when they believed they were doing nothing wrong or when they honestly believed that they were acting within the requirements of the law. This is particularly challenging for people who are visiting or traveling through New Jersey. No matter the situation, an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges and get a fair outcome.
Potential Consequences of Weapons Charges
The potential consequences you face will depend on the crime you are charged with and the circumstances surrounding your case. New Jersey divides weapons charges into four degrees:
First-degree crimes such as armed robbery or kidnapping:
Second-degree crimes (most New Jersey gun offenses):
Third-degree crimes such as crimes involving knives or air rifles:
Fourth-degree crimes such as possession of an illegal knife:
As you can see, even minor crimes carry serious consequences. For third and fourth-degree weapons charges, there is a presumption that first-offenders will not have to serve time in prison, but this is only a presumption - there are no guarantees that you won't go to jail if convicted.
The Graves Act
Criminal charges involving firearms are taken very seriously and carry heavy consequences in New Jersey. One example is the Graves Act, which imposes minimum prison sentences and parole ineligibility for certain firearm-related offenses. It originally applied only to the possession or use of a firearm during the commission of other crimes, but has been expanded to include the following:
Graves Act violations for the crimes listed above carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence, and those who are convicted cannot be eligible for parole until they have served between one-third or one-half of their sentence, or 3 years, whichever is greater.
The Graves Act also requires that additional prison time be added to the minimum sentence if you have been previously convicted of a crime involving a firearm. It will also impose a period of parole ineligibility.
Facing Weapons Charges? Contact New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Lauren Wimmer
If you’ve been charged with a weapons crime, you could be facing time in prison and heavy fines. In addition, you’ll have a criminal conviction on your record that could follow you for the rest of your life. Don’t jeopardize your future by thinking you have to face these charges on your own. You need someone who knows the law and has the experience to make sure you get a fair result. If you’ve been charged with a weapons crime in New Jersey, criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights. Call us at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your case.