Possession of Assault Firearms in New Jersey

In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess an assault weapon unless you are issued a specific license to possess the weapon, or it is registered or rendered inoperable. If found in illegal possession of an assault weapon, you will be charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) in the 2nd degree.

Weapons Charges Defense Attorneys with Offices in Morris County, New Jersey

NJ Assault Firearm Possession Lawyer
Assault Weapons Charges in NJ

Both Federal and State laws regarding assault weapons are constantly changing, with newly proposed laws and shifting policies that may alter your legal rights and responsibilities at any time. In order to ensure that you remain in compliance with all State and Federal laws regarding assault weapons, you must have access to current information. New Jersey expressly outlaws over 50 specifically mentioned assault weapons, as well as firearms considered “substantially identical” to one of the named firearms, or bearing substantially similar features to the ones outlined in N.J.S.2C:39-1. This includes guns with high-capacity magazines, semi-automatic firearms such as shotguns with folding stocks, weapons with bump stocks, and even the parts necessary to take a regular firearm and make it into an assault firearm. Only a select few can actually possess these weapons and they must first undergo a rigorous permitting application process in order to acquire a license to possess an assault weapon. The other exceptions for possessing an assault firearm apply if the weapon is rendered inoperable, meaning it no longer functions in its original capacity, or it is registered by the owner. In the case that you are accused of unlawfully possessing an assault weapon, the consequences of a conviction can be severe. These charges are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f) and are categorized as second degree crimes, with penalties including up to 10 years in prison. In addition, unlawful possession of an assault weapon is a Grave Act Offense, meaning the defendant must serve a minimum period of imprisonment before parole is even an option. As such, it is highly advisable to enlist an experienced and aggressive defense attorney who can advocate for your rights.

At The Tormey Law Firm, our seasoned New Jersey weapons attorneys regularly represent clients facing assault firearm possession charges and other criminal weapons charges such as possession of a weapon on school grounds and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Led by founder Travis J. Tormey, who was recently named among the top 10 Criminal Attorneys in New Jersey by the American Jurist Institute, our weapons defense team includes former gun prosecutors, former members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and a former member of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Weapons Forfeiture Unit. With our unique insight into weapons prosecutions, we successfully resolve cases in courts across the State, including in Morris County, Bergen County, Union County, and Somerset county. To speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today, contact us at (201)-614-2474 for a cost-free consultation.

What is Considered an Assault Weapon in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess an assault weapon unless you are issued a specific license to possess the weapon, or it is registered or rendered inoperable. The criteria for an assault weapon are outlined in section N.J.S.2C:39-1, which includes a list of over 50 firearms, as well as the following weapons:

  • A semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a pistol grip, or a folding stock;
  • A semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds (with one exception being semi-automatic rifles with attached tubular devices with a limitation of only operating with 0.22 caliber rimfire ammunition;
  • A part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts from which an assault firearm may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person; or
  • A firearm with a bump stock attached.

If a weapon contains two or more of these features, it is also considered an assault weapon, as New Jersey applies the law to weapons considered “substantially identical.” In essence, an assault firearm can be nearly the same as one of the firearms listed or with nearly the same characteristics, such as a firearm that differs in material or color, but not in its basic nature. An example of a substantially identical firearm is a semi-automatic pistol with the capacity for a detachable magazine, as well as a silencer and a surrounding barrel that prevents burning when shooting with the non-trigger hand. Another example is a semi-automatic shotgun with a folding stock and the capacity to fire more than 5 rounds.

Notable among the many listed assault weapons are the Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series, the Ruger K-Mini-14/5F and Mini-14/5RF, and the Weaver Arm Nighthawk. Although the Springfield M1A is not particularly named in the law, it meets the criteria for substantially identical and therefore, is considered an assault weapon.

Unlawful Possession of an Assault Weapons Charges in NJ

If you are found to possess an assault weapon unlawfully, you may be charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, which is codified in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. Under subsection (f) of this statute, unlawful possession of an assault firearm is a second degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve between 5 and 10 years in New Jersey State Prison. In addition, unlawful possession of an assault firearm is subject to the stringent sentencing guidelines of New Jersey’s Graves Act, which requires the imposition of a minimum term of imprisonment with a mandatory period of parole ineligibility fixed at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or 42 months, whichever is greater.

In order to avoid a Graves Act sentence, a person charged with an assault weapon must obtain a Graves Act Waiver, which is no easy feat. It is incredibly important to have a knowledgeable gun lawyer working on your behalf to present you in the best possible light in these cases. Without a waiver, a defendant facing second degree assault firearm charges will be sentenced to prison time, even for a first-time offense. Conversely, if the court grants a waiver, opportunities that were otherwise unavailable, such as probation, Pretrial Intervention, or a lesser sentence, become potential avenues to obtain a better resolution.

Assault Weapon Licenses in New Jersey

New Jersey law is extremely restrictive with regard to issuing licenses for assault weapons. In order to qualify for an assault weapon license, you must meet the criteria necessary to obtain a Permit to Carry a Handgun and demonstrate that the public safety and welfare requires the issuance of such a license. Section 2C:58-5 of the New Jersey statutes is a distinct law that applies to licenses to possess and carry assault weapons and machine guns. Similar to a handgun carry permit, you must undergo the application process every 2 years in order to renew an assault weapon license.

Registration Requirements for Assault Firearms in NJ

Section 2C:58-12 of the New Jersey statutes required anyone who legally purchased an assault weapon prior to, or on, May 1st 1990, to register the firearm. Only registered assault firearms bought before that date and specifically used for competitive target-shooting are considered legally registered, after the applicant completed the registration process.

Contact our Morristown Assault Weapons Defense Lawyers for Answers

If you have questions regarding assault weapons in New Jersey or you are facing criminal charges related to illegal possession or purchasing of an assault firearm, contact our New Jersey weapons attorneys for immediate answers and a free consultation. We defend visitors and residents of NJ who get arrested for assault weapons in Ocean County, Middlesex County, Hudson County, Monmouth County, and other counties. Handling these cases on a regular basis and having experience on our side as defense lawyers and former prosecutors means we are able to assess each case for the optimal approach to handling the defense. Whether it be an illegal search resulting in the seizure of an assault rifle, a Graves Act waiver that facilitates enrollment in the PTI program, or another approach to reducing or dismissing assault weapons offenses for our clients, our lawyers are uniquely equipped to assist. Call (201)-614-2474 today if you need help with an assault weapons case.