Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons in NJ
“Certain persons offenses may be considered second, third, or fourth degree crimes in New Jersey. Depending on the degree of the charges, you may face 18 months to 10 years in prison, with a period of parole ineligibility.”
New Jersey strictly prohibits people convicted of certain felony offenses from owning or possessing weapons for the rest of their lives. This criminal offense, called “Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons” under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, also criminalizes having a firearm or another weapon if you have been convicted of a disorderly persons or felony domestic violence offense. You may also face certain persons charges if you are found with a weapon and have been previously institutionalized for mental illness. The degree of a certain persons not to have weapons crime depends on the type of weapon involved and the circumstances that led to the certain persons classification in the first place. If you or a loved one has been charged with a certain persons offense in New Jersey, seeking legal counsel is imperative to prevent the serious consequences of these charges. Without a skillful defense, you are at risk of a lengthy state prison sentence.
The skilled firearms defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm LLC are available immediately to assist you with any weapons related charges in New Jersey, including certain persons not to have weapons in Newark, Morristown, Paterson, and Hackensack. In fact, several of our guns defense lawyers are former weapons prosecutors in Morris County who now defend our clients facing these same offenses. In addition, if you have issues relating to gun permits, firearms ID cards, or potential weapons forfeiture, our experienced firearms attorneys can assist you with every aspect of this complicated process. Contact our offices today for a free initial consultation at (201)-614-2474.
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“Worth every penny. Words can not express how pleased I was with my decision to retain Christopher Perry. I had never had any legal issues in the past and had no idea how to proceed. Mr. Perry explained every step with patience and attention to detail, his knowledge and professionalism immediately eased my anxiety. He was attentive and answered every one of my questions immediately to the fullest extent of his abilities. The outcome of my case was ideal and I firmly believe it was entirely due to having Mr. Perry as my attorney. I HIGHLY recommend him to anyone who may find themselves in need of his services and would not hesitate to use him in the future. Words can not express how impressed I was with his services through the entire 9 month process. Look no further you have found your attorney.”
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons: N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, which provides that if you have been convicted of certain felonies in New Jersey or any other State, then you are not permitted to purchase, own, or possess a firearm in New Jersey. The crimes that prevent you from having a weapon in New Jersey if convicted include: robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, extortion, homicide, kidnapping, escape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, stalking, and bias intimidation. The statute mandates that if you have been convicted of any of these crimes or similar crimes in another state, then you are not allowed to possess a weapon in NJ. If you do, you could be charged with a certain persons offense. The certain persons law also applies to anyone convicted of domestic violence charges, including disorderly persons offenses. Lastly, if you were institutionalized for a mental illness, you cannot have a weapon without medical authorization and a letter of clearance from a licensed practitioner.
What are the Penalties for Certain Persons Offense in New Jersey?
Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons is a second degree crime when the offense involves a firearm. This level of offense carries 5-10 years in New Jersey State prison and up to a $150,000 fine. In addition, you typically must serve at least 5 years before becoming eligible for parole under New Jersey’s Graves Act. Thus, the typical plea offer our firearms defense lawyers see from the prosecutors is 5 years of imprisonment, with 5 years to be served without the possibility of parole.
If the reason a person cannot possess a firearm is based on the issuance of a temporary or final restraining order, this is typically graded as a third degree crime punishable by 3-5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine as high as $15,000. Also, if your original conviction was for a disorderly persons offense related to domestic violence, then you will usually be charged with a third degree crime for possession of a firearm illegally under the certain persons statute. If your original conviction for domestic violence involved a disorderly persons offense and the certain persons charge is related to a weapon other than a firearm, then the charge will be graded as a fourth degree crime.
Fourth degree charges for certain persons offenses apply in cases involving other weapons, meaning any item that qualifies as a weapon in New Jersey other than a firearm. Fourth degree certain persons crimes are punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. If a certain persons charge is based on prior commitment to a psychiatric facility or a hospital due to a mental illness or disorder, then the offense will also be classified as a crime of the fourth degree.
What are the Required Elements to Prove Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons?
As is the case with all criminal offenses in New Jersey, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. This is also true when the defendant has been charged with an offense for certain persons not to possess weapons. In order to meet the prosecutor’s burden to prove a certain persons charge, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(a), the following elements must be established:
(1) that the object involved in the commission of the offense is a weapon;
(2) that the defendant possessed, purchased, controlled, or owned the weapon at the time of the offense;
(3) that the defendant met one of the following criteria for a certain person: committed an eligible crime according to the statute, or committed a predicate act of domestic violence, or was committed to a medical facility for a psychiatric disorder.
Several things are important in order for a certain persons offense conviction to occur. One of which is the defendant’s state of mind. Specifically, his or her actions must have been committed knowingly. This means that the person had knowledge or was aware of their actions at the time of the offense. Although knowledge is not observable, the knowledge of the crime can be inferred or presumed based on the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s actions.
Another important aspect of the offense involves possession, if the defendant’s possession of a weapon is the basis of the charge. A certain persons offense may arise when the defendant actually or constructively possesses the weapon, meaning his or her possession occurred with knowledge and the ability to control the weapon for an adequate length of time. Essentially, whether the defendant possesses the weapon on his or her person, or has knowledge of and the ability to control it, either satisfies the possession requirement. Actual possession may occur when the weapon is located on the defendant’s person, such as a handgun in a holster on their waistband. Constructive possession encompasses a more broad range of circumstances, such as a defendant driving a vehicle with a shotgun, assault weapon, or BB gun in the trunk.
Lastly, in order for the object to qualify as a weapon, it must satisfactorily meet the definition of a weapon under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1. A weapon may include any item capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or causing death. Depending on the circumstances, a weapon can include everyday items such as kitchen knives or construction tools, as well as objects like baseball bats. More obvious weapons include rifles, handguns, air guns, and explosives.
Domestic Violence Offenses Prohibiting Gun Ownership in New Jersey
If a person has a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) conviction and it is associated with an act of domestic violence, they are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. To start, there is not a single criminal charge in the New Jersey criminal code labeled domestic violence. Meaning, a person may be convicted of a number of criminal offenses that fall under the purview of domestic violence. The term describes the relationship between the defendant and the victim and is utilized as an aggravating factor in connection with the underlying charge.
The most common offenses connected to domestic violence are simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment, criminal mischief, trespass, and contempt. Also, please keep in mind, the definition of domestic violence is not limited to violence. It can include non-violent conduct such as destruction of property and harassing messages. In fact, the most commonly litigated form of domestic violence in New Jersey is harassment. A person can be convicted of harassment for sending harassing text messages and similarly, a restraining order can be issued for similar conduct. Therefore, a person can lose their ability to purchase a gun for sending unwanted messages to a spouse or ex-partner.
For instance, perhaps a person gets into a bar fight and strikes a stranger. The patron will likely be charged with simple assault. In turn, the charging document will only read simple assault and if the person is later convicted, his or her record will merely show a simple assault conviction. Moreover, if that same individual wishes to apply for a firearms permit, he or she is eligible. However, if that same person struck his spouse or partner, the records associated with the charge will read simple assault—domestic violence. The fact that the person committed a criminal act against someone who is a spouse or partner makes the offense more serious. To that end, if an applicant has a criminal record showing domestic violence, he or she is barred from obtaining a permit in New Jersey.
As a result, if a person has a previous domestic violence offense in their criminal history and they are found in possession of a weapon, they may be charged with a certain persons offense.
Facing Certain Persons Charges in NJ? Get Help Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a certain persons not to have weapons offense or needs more information regarding a certain persons charge in New Jersey, contact the experienced weapons defense attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm now for immediate assistance at (201)-614-2474. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge. You can also contact us online if you need counsel. Our lawyers have helped countless clients defending certain persons cases in Elizabeth, Somerville, New Brunswick, Freehold, and across the state. Please feel free to learn more about your charges and legal options anytime. We are here for you.