Charged with Unlawful Possession of Firearm?

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Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes in New Jersey


Possession of firearm for unlawful purposes

The offense of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes means just what it sounds like: possessing a firearm with the purpose of using that firearm in a crime. As a result, this offense is rarely charged alone; it will be charged in conjunction with other alleged crimes such as assault or robbery. The charge of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes is independent of whether that firearm is owned legally. 

This is a very serious charge, with potential consequences of 5-10 years in prison. Thus, it is important to have experienced legal representation when accused of this offense. At Rosenblum Law, our criminal defense attorneys have decades of combined experience representing defendants in criminal cases. Call us for a free consultation today if you have been charged with possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes so we can begin building a robust defense.

Understanding Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes in New Jersey

The definition of the offense of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes in New Jersey can be found in Section 2C:39-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code of Criminal Justice. This definition states that “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.”

The legal definition of a firearm in New Jersey is found in Title 13, Chapter 54 of the state code. It defines a firearm as: 

Any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, assault firearm, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectile, ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm 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.

“Unlawful purposes” typically means an intent to commit one or more crimes with the firearm. This could involve the intent to harm someone or commit a robbery, for example. Terrorizing or intimidating someone can also be considered an unlawful purpose. 

Consequences of Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes in New Jersey

The consequences of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes in New Jersey are quite serious. A second degree crime is punishable by:

  • 5-10 years in a state prison
  • a fine of up to $150,000, and 
  • a felony charge on one’s criminal history 

If the offense alleges use of a community gun, at least one third of one’s sentence or three years, whichever is greater, must be served before the possibility of parole. A community gun is one passed between two or more parties for unlawful purposes. 

A felony charge on one’s criminal record impacts future rights. For example, one cannot legally possess a firearm with a felony criminal record. An individual with a felony also loses their right to vote. 

Factors Considered in Prosecuting Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes in New Jersey

To prove possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had possession of a firearm (whether or not the firearm was owned legally), and that the accused intended or attempted to commit a crime. 

The best defense against the charge of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes is that no crime using the firearm was attempted or intended. If one can prove there were no unlawful purposes for possessing the gun, the charge must be dismissed. However, if the gun is owned unlawfully, that is a separate crime. 

Other potential defenses to possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes include:

  • Incomplete Miranda warning
  • Mistaken identity
  • Planted firearms
  • Produce an alibi 
  • Possession of a firearm for sport
  • Possession of a firearm for self-defense

Another possible defense is illegal search and seizure. If a vehicle or home is searched without a warrant, it is possible to have charges thrown out, as the search violated the accused’s Fourth Amendment rights. 

How an Attorney Can Assist Someone Accused of Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes in New Jersey

An attorney can assist someone accused of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes in many ways. In the initial consultation and case evaluation, the attorney can give an idea of the chances of success. They will help the accused understand the charge of possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes and gather information about the case.

The attorney will then gather evidence and witness testimony, developing a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances. This could involve investigating how the firearm was discovered by law enforcement, looking at video footage, talking to witnesses, or otherwise attempting to show the firearm was not intended to be used in a crime. 

An attorney will represent and advocate for the accused in court proceedings, making arguments on their behalf. They can also negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or penalties. When the case is over, the attorney can provide guidance on potential consequences of a conviction, appeal rights, and how the defendant’s rights other rights (like voting) may be restored. 

FAQs

What constitutes “unlawful purposes” under New Jersey law?

Unlawful purposes means the intent or attempt to commit a crime. 

Can I possess a firearm for self-defense in New Jersey?

You can possess a firearm for self-defense in New Jersey if one has a Firearm Identification Card (FID). To possess a handgun, you must also have a handgun permit.

What evidence is needed to convict someone of possession of firearms for unlawful purposes?

The evidence must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in possession of a firearm and intended or attempted to commit a crime.

How long can I be sentenced if convicted of this offense?

You can be sentenced to 5-10 years in a state prison if convicted of this offense. If the offense was committed with a community gun, there is a minimum term of three years or one-third of the sentence, whichever is greater.

Can I lose my right to own firearms if convicted?

Yes, if convicted of possession of firearms for unlawful purposes, you will have a felony record and be unable to own firearms in the future.

Can the charge be expunged from my record?

It is possible that the charge could be expunged from your criminal record at a later date. This is usually determined by a deal made with the prosecution.

Should I plead guilty or fight the charge?

You should always consult with an attorney before pleading guilty of any crime. It is possible that the attorney can make a deal with the prosecution for a lesser charge, or the charges can be fought. It depends on the circumstances of the case.

Call a Rosenblum Law Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes is a serious charge that should be handled with the aid of an attorney. With a potential prison term of 5-10 years, it is important that one have adequate legal representation when fighting this charge. 

Rosenblum Law criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience with these and other firearms charges. We can negotiate with the prosecutor to try to get charges reduced or even dismissed. If a case goes to court, we will present evidence and testimony on your behalf. Contact us today for your consultation at 973-750-9556.

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