Psychological Evaluations & Gun Permitting in New Jersey
New Jersey has been regularly labeled one of the strictest and harshest states in the Union surrounding guns. If a person is found merely in possession of a firearm illegally, he or she faces prison between 5 to 10 years and moreover, must serve at least half of the time imposed by the Court. Thus, at a minimum, the individual may have to serve two and half years in prison before being eligible for parole. Also, the person charged doesn’t even have to use the weapon in an unlawful manner, simply possessing the weapon contrary to New Jersey law exposes them to a severe prison sentence.
How to Legally Buy a Gun in New Jersey
With that in mind, let’s turn to how to lawfully own and purchase a firearm in New Jersey in order to avoid any severe criminal punishments. To own or purchase a firearm in New Jersey, the individual must obtain the proper permits. To do that, an individual must submit an application with their local police department. The application can be acquired online or obtained at the police station. The form asks a series of questions inquiring about the applicant’s background. It inquiries if the person has ever been convicted of a crime, has any physical or mental disabilities, and whether the individual has any substance abuse problems. The application also requires the person to provide the names of any people who could attest that the applicant is a person of good moral character. Lastly, it also requires that the person execute a few waivers so the police can examine their criminal record and medical history.
Further, there may be new legislation passed that will mandate that a person seeking to obtain a firearms permit must submit to a psychological evaluation as well as allow your home to be inspected.
Getting a Permit to Carry a Firearm in NJ
The above outlines how to obtain the proper permits to own and purchase a gun. Nevertheless, those permits do allow an individual to carry a firearm in public. A separate permit is required. To obtain a carrier’s permit, one must submit a different application to the local police. The application is very similar. It asks identical questions, requires the person to supply three character references, and also obligates the person to execute releases. But it also mandates that the individual demonstrate that he or she is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns; and there is a justifiable need to carry a handgun.
A person can show they are thoroughly familiar with the safe handling of firearms by completing a firearms training course, submitting firearm shooting test scores, or passing a use of force test that is utilized by the police themselves.
To show a justifiable need, the applicant must submit a written certification detailing the urgent necessity for self protection. Meaning, the individual must explain that they are being threatened in some manner and therefore, they need to carry a firearm in order to protect themselves. The certification should also be corroborated in some manner by either text messages, emails, or social media posts showing that someone is threatening you. The person can also present previously filed police reports or restraining orders demonstrating that he or she is in imminent danger.
After submitting the application, the police will review it, contact the character references, and review your background. If the police do not uncover anything alarming, the application will be approved and you may own, purchase, and possibly carry firearms within the State. On the other hand, if the police find something that disqualifies you, the application will be denied and a letter will be sent to you specifying why your request was denied.
What if my Application was Denied?
Do not be deterred. You can appeal the police department’s decision. To file an appeal, a person must submit a notice of appeal to the Superior Court as well as serve a copy upon the police and the prosecutor’s office. After proper notice is sent, the Court will schedule a hearing to hear the gun permit appeal.
To win the appeal, the applicant must show that the police department’s decision was wrong and they had no reason to deny the application. Under New Jersey, it is presumed that the person should be allowed to own and purchase a firearm unless they are disqualified for some reason. The controlling statute supplies a list of reasons why a person will be deemed disqualified. They can be rejected because they have been convicted of a crime, they are subject to a restraining order, they have a physical or mental disability that presents a safety concern, they are suffering from substance abuse, they are named on a terrorist watch list, or lastly, they present a public safety risk.
At the hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office will call an officer to testify alongside any other witnesses that can support their case. For instance, if the person was arrested several times for assault but never convicted, the State may say the individual poses a safety risk and he or she should not own a firearm. To support their case, the Prosecutor will call the police officer who processed the application. He or she will testify that a background check was done and several arrests were found. The officer may also be permitted to testify about the details of the arrests. The State may also call the arresting officers to supply testimony about what occurred. In addition, the prosecutor may call to the alleged victims of the assault to explain to the Court what happened.
Nevertheless, the State’s witnesses and evidence can be challenged. The person seeking a permit can cross-examine the witnesses and present evidence and witnesses of their own to show the Court that he or she does not pose a risk to the community. On top that, one can also introduce expert testimony to show that he or she is of sound mind and does not pose a threat to the community.
Why a Psychological Evaluation Matters when You Want to Obtain a Firearm
Generally, it is a good idea for anyone filing an appeal to obtain a psychological evaluation. Most permit denials are based upon safety concerns. As such, to counter the State’s assertion that the applicant poses a risk to the public, it is generally beneficial to present expert testimony to the contrary. Furthermore, some Prosecutor’s offices are willing to negotiate deals with applicants, wherein, the individual must submit to counseling and in exchange, the Prosecutor will agree to allow the individual to own a firearm. To that end, if the person obtains a favorable evaluation, it can be presented to the State and shown that counseling is not needed. Therefore, is typically beneficial to obtain a psychological evaluation if you wish to file a successfully appeal a rejected gun permit application.
Need Help with a Firearms Permit Issue in New Jersey?
If you are seeking to obtain a firearm or your gun permit application was denied and you are considering filing an appeal, call the New Jersey Firearms Attorneys at our firm for assistance. We have extensive experience with the gun permit process, common permitting issues, and the best ways to win a firearm appeal in court. Call us today at (201)-614-2474 or fill out our convenient online form to arrange a free consultation.