New Jersey Policies on Legal vs. Illegal Self-Defense Weapons
Understanding the Laws on Self-Defense Weapons in New Jersey
The Second Amendment guarantees the constitutional right to self-defense. However, that right is not absolute in New Jersey and throughout the nation. For example, you cannot carry a gun into a federal courthouse in any state, regardless of your legal permit, unless you are a federal marshal or other exempted individual. In New Jersey, you cannot bring a weapon just anywhere, and you cannot have just any kind of weapon either, even for self-defense. Knowing that the right to self-defense has limits is essential to avoiding severe legal trouble, as is knowing which weapons can be lawfully carried for self-defense and which are entirely illegal for any purposes. Additionally, some weapons are lawful to own and possess for self-defense; however, the individual possessing them must have a valid permit obtained through appropriate channels.
New Jersey’s gun laws are intricate rules and regulations that our weapons attorneys know intimately. If you need to find out if you qualify to purchase or possess a specific firearm or weapon, you need help with the process of applying for a permit for a weapon, or you find yourself facing charges for violating the laws on weapons for self-defense in New Jersey, our NJ weapons defense lawyers are prepared to assist you. We can guide you through the process of legally acquiring a self-defense weapon or defend you in court against serious weapons-related charges. Do not wait to contact us at (201)-614-2474 for a free consultation and have your questions and concerns addressed right away.
The General Rule on Carrying a Weapon for Self-Defense in NJ
Compared to other states, New Jersey has more restrictions on whether or where an individual can carry a firearm for self-defense. New Jersey’s laws prohibit the open carrying of a weapon anywhere other than at home or on your private property. However, you can carry a validly permitted concealed firearm for self-defense.
Lawful Weapons to Carry for Self-Defense in New Jersey
Legal guns in New Jersey include handguns, rifles, and shotguns, with the appropriate permits. A valid gun purchasing permit allows you to purchase a firearm from an authorized dealer. However, you cannot obtain a firearm without a serial number, except in specific circumstances, and an authorized dealer sells serialized firearms. A handgun can be carried legally for self-defense if concealed, after getting another permit, a handgun carry permit. You can also have high-powered weapons, like machine guns and assault rifles, but you need a special permit authorized by a court. Of course, firearms are not the only means of self-defense.
Weapons to fend off intruders or assaults include pepper spray and mace, which do not require permits. It is also legal to carry a knife with fewer than five inches of blade, typically used for camping, tactical pens with multiple uses, kubotans (self-defense keychain weapons), and walking sticks. You can also use reasonable force to protect yourself, your family, or others from danger, though what is reasonable is assessed case by case.
Unlawful Self-Defense Weapons in NJ
It is illegal to carry switchblades, blackjacks, nun-chucks, brass knuckles, slingshots, sawed-off shotguns, defaced firearms, dum-dum bullets, silencers, and knives that open with gravity and lock into place, called gravity knives, unless you are in the military or otherwise authorized. In New Jersey, you may legally carry permitted and legal weapons for self-defense, but you may not have one for other purposes, such as committing crimes. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 prohibits carrying weapons for unlawful purposes against a person or property. This law also criminalizes the illegal use of explosives, destructive devices, imitation firearms, and other weapons. Also, community gun transfer, receipt, or possession is a second degree crime.
Types of People that are Prohibited from Carrying Weapons for Self-Defense in NJ
Regardless of the legality of the weapon, certain persons may not have weapons. Individuals under 18 may not purchase weapons, as well as those disqualified from possessing self-defense weapons, such as convicted felons for specific violent and controlled dangerous substance-related indictable crimes and those subject to restraining orders, with a history of domestic violence or documented mental illness.
Arrested for Carrying a Weapon for Self Defense in New Jersey
If you carry a weapon for self-defense and get arrested, you may face illegal weapons or other charges, depending on the circumstances. You can face a fourth, third, or second degree crime with a prohibited weapon. For example, if you are caught with an unlicensed machine gun or device that could be turned into a machine gun, you may be charged with a second degree crime. Possessing a handgun without a permit is also a second degree crime unless it’s an air or pellet handgun. Then, it is a third degree crime. Carrying a rifle or shotgun without a firearms purchaser identification card is a third degree crime. In all cases, the accused must have knowingly possessed the the firearm in order for the state to prove unlawful possession of a weapon charges.
Additionally, possessing a weapon that may be legal but, under the circumstances, is not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses is also an indictable crime. Thus, a baseball bat is suitable on the baseball field and is perfectly legal there. However, when you are arrested with a baseball bat hidden in your coat while standing in front of a jewelry storefront window, you may be guilty of violating New Jersey law. A weapon is anything capable of causing bodily harm or physical damage. And, of course, when a weapon is used for an unlawful purpose, you could face charges for aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, manslaughter, or any other crime in addition to the charge for possessing the weapon for illegal purposes. A conviction for multiple offenses could mean many years in prison.
Penalties You May Face for Violating New Jersey’s Self-Defense Weapons Laws
A conviction for weapons-related charges means a potential prison sentence and an expensive fine. A fourth degree charge is punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. A third degree conviction comes with a 3 to 5-year sentence and a $15,000.00 fine, while a second degree conviction could mean 5 to 10 years in state prison and a $150,000.00 fine. In addition, certain gun crimes are subject to the Graves Act, which requires mandatory minimum prison terms of the greater of one-third to one-half the sentence or three years. In other words, a sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm requires a minimum of 42 months in prison before the inmate is eligible for parole and early release.
Contact our Lawyers if You Have Concerns about Weapons for Self-Defense in New Jersey
Like elsewhere, you have a constitutional right to self-defense, so long as you exercise it within the bounds of the law. Once you break the law, you will need a weapons defense attorney to guide you through the criminal justice process, including securing your release from jail, representing you at your arraignment, and arguing for a not-guilty verdict at trial. Our team of New Jersey gun lawyers is well-versed in the complex rules and requirements of self-defense weapons and we can specifically assess your case to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of all of your legal options, such as reduced charges and sentences in exchange for a guilty plea to some or all the charges, a defense approach that successfully shows you were acting in self-defense, or another route to a favorable resolution. Call (201)-614-2474 to speak with our New Jersey weapons defense attorneys to protect your constitutional rights to defense and fair treatment under the law.