Your Rights When Arrested for a Weapons Crime in NJ
Arrested for a Weapon in New Jersey, What are my Rights?
Do you own a firearm? What if you are arrested with a loaded gun in your car? New Jersey has tough gun laws, and you should know what to expect if are arrested for possession of an illegal weapon, or illegal possession of a weapon. Here’s what you should know. If you would like to speak with an attorney with extensive knowledgeable about New Jersey weapons crimes and defense, contact our firm today at (201) 614-2474 for an absolutely free consultation. One of our experienced NJ weapons lawyers is available anytime to provide personalized guidance based on the specifics of your case.
What happens when you are arrested with a gun or other weapon in NJ?
If you are arrested for possession of an illegal weapon or illegally possessing a weapon, you should know what happens. If you are in police custody, meaning you are detained by the police (not just a traffic stop), you must be read your Miranda Rights before being questioned by the police. These rights include the right to refuse to answer questions and remain silent or to stop answering questions if you started answering, the right to advanced notice that what you say may be used against you in a court of law, and the right to an attorney, whether you can afford one or not.
What if I’m Stopped by Police with a Weapon in my Possession in NJ?
If you are stopped and there is probable cause for a weapons search (a reasonable suspicion based on evidence or the totality of facts and circumstances perceived by the officer, not just a guess), you may be frisked, meaning pat-down searched. If you are arrested, your vehicle may be searched and/or seized for illegal weapons, stolen goods, or other evidence of a crime. Additionally, your personal items will be confiscated and inventoried with you. You may be asked questions and you may be searched more thoroughly for any other weapons.
Booking and Bail for a Weapons Crime in NJ
After arrest, you are likely to be booked, fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned about your personal identity. You may be required to have your identity verified in a line-up or by a handwriting sample. The police may not detain you for an unreasonably long time before booking you, reasonable being within 24 hours. Otherwise, your attorney may file a writ of habeas corpus to get you in front of a judge to determine if you are being lawfully detained.
Initially upon arrest, pretrial services will conduct what is called a Public Safety Assessment (PSA), using your criminal history, the nature of the current alleged offense, and other factors to determine the likelihood that you will fail to appear in court or commit another crime. There is presumption against release in cases involving certain crimes, including murder and a multitude of charges for guns and weapons.
If the prosecutor files a motion for detention, the judge will also decide whether to release you, set conditions for bail, or keep you in jail. Before this decision, the prosecutor and your defense attorney will present evidence and arguments either in favor or against you being detained in jail until the resolution of your case. It is critical to an experienced criminal defense lawyer representing you at your detention hearing, as New Jersey abolished its monetary bail system and if a judge decides that no conditions or set of conditions can be imposed to prevent you from re-offending, presenting a danger to the public, or failing to appear in court, you may be held in jail throughout the legal process that follows.
Filing of Weapons Charges Against You in New Jersey
Your case goes to the prosecution to determine which charges will be formally pursued against you—either by indictment by a grand jury for a serious felony or through the U.S. Attorney’s office if you have been charged with a federal crime. Since you have a right to a speedy trial, charges must be filed within 48 to 72 hours, according to the New Jersey Superior Court. Typically, weapons crimes are handled in the New Jersey Superior Court, Criminal Division, in the specific county where the alleged offense took place. In cases involving felony weapons charges, a grand jury determines if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case before it moves forward to pre-trial hearings and ultimately, the trial phase.
Once charges are filed, a hearing called an arraignment is set, at which time the charges are read and you will need to decide whether to plead guilty or guilty not. If pleading not guilty, the pre-trial conference date is set, when your attorney has the opportunity to discuss the case and a potential resolution with the prosecutor.
It is not uncommon for the defendants’ attorneys to negotiate plea bargains with the prosecuting attorney for a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to avoid the necessity of going to trial. If no plea agreement is reached and you do not obtain admission into a diversionary program known as Pre-Trial Intervention, which is rare but not impossible, the case will go to trial. At trial, a jury will determine guilt or innocence, after which you will either be sentenced, if found guilty, or released.
What to do When Arrested with a Weapon in NJ? Defend Your Rights!
Since New Jersey’s gun laws are strict, carrying serious penalties, you should know your rights and responsibilities if you are accused of violating the laws. Consulting with a knowledgeable weapons defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system is a must in this precarious position. For more information and to begin constructing your best defense strategy moving forward, contact a skilled NJ weapons lawyer at our firm today. You can reach us 24/7 at (201) 614-2474 for immediate answers and assistance. You can also set up an appointment at one of our local offices in Morris County, Bergen County, Monmouth County, Middlesex County, or Essex County.