Federal Weapons Charge Defense Attorneys in New Jersey

Defending Clients Facing Federal Guns and Weapons Offenses in Newark, Trenton, and Camden NJ

NJ federal weapons crime attorneys Gun crimes often occur in conjunction with other crimes, so an individual arrested for committing a crime may face additional, more severe charges when the police confiscate a weapon at the arrest. When a crime occurs in New Jersey, not only the state laws but also federal gun laws apply. That means an individual may face federal weapons charges in lieu of, or in addition to, state charges. The federal laws regarding guns and weapons can lead to multiple charges being filed in a given case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes federal crimes and often seeks the maximum penalties in these cases. When you have been charged with a federal weapons offense, your case will be handled in one of the several United States District Courts in New Jersey, which are located in Newark, Camden, and Trenton. As you can imagine, your entire life is on the line when charged with a federal crime involving weapons. Even being investigated starts a frightening process that could result in incarceration in federal prison.

If you have been charged with a federal weapons offense in New Jersey and have a pending criminal matter in Federal Court, or if you are currently being investigated by federal authorities for involvement in a weapons-related case, you can count on the accomplished and aggressive team of federal weapons charge attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm to help protect your rights. We have over 100 years of combined experience handling criminal cases on both sides of the justice system, including as prosecutors and defense lawyers. Our team‘s experience spans state, federal, and military courts, as we handle the most high-stakes criminal matters where our clients may be facing decades of incarceration. Whether you need assistance with an active investigation or prosecution for federal weapons charges in New Jersey, our federal defense attorneys are fully equipped to assist you, assess your options, and determine the best strategic approach to your defense. Contact us at (201) 614-2474 for a free and confidential consultation.

The Foundation of Federal Gun Laws

The federal gun laws are detailed in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, including in Section 922 and Section 924, which govern violations including unlawful firearm possession and sales. A person violates federal law when they violate the gun possession and sale laws and transport guns or ammunition across state lines. Other pertinent gun laws are contained in federal acts, such as the National Firearms Act of 1934 and two others from 1968 and 1994, the former for gun control and the latter for an assault weapons ban. From these acts come federal gun laws regarding the manufacture, sale, and transfer of firearms, minimum age requirements for gun purchases, serial number mandates, background checks, licenses for dealers, and persons disqualified from owning weapons.

Main Categories of Federal Weapons Charges

Four main categories of federal weapons violations are unlawful possession, gun trafficking, violent crimes, and fraud.

Possession Violations under Federal Weapons Law

Unlawful possession concerns possession of an unlicensed weapon, possession by one convicted of a domestic violence offense, and possession of firearms, weapons-related items, or ammunition by a convicted felon. Possession of a weapon is illegal under these circumstances, regardless of the weapon’s condition or functionality. Other people prohibited from possessing firearms (18 U.S.C. 922(g)) are fugitives from justice, substance abusers, those with mental defects, illegal aliens, those dishonorably discharged from the military, and those who renounce their U.S. citizenship.

It is also against federal law to possess or transport weapons without the manufacturer’s serial number. A missing or removed serial number makes the weapon illegal to possess or receive (Under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(k)). Guns without serial numbers are unlawful to have, and so are machine guns, explosives, sawed-off (short-barrel) shotguns and rifles (Section 922(a)(4)). A sawed-off shotgun or rifle has a short barrel that is fewer than 18 inches long and fewer than 26 inches long overall. Other prohibited gun-related items include silencers and mufflers (26 U.S. Code 5861).

Trafficking Offenses

In addition, gun trafficking involves moving firearms across state lines or from legal to illegal channels within the state. For example, a straw purchase refers to a person who legally buys a gun for one who cannot buy a gun because they are subject to a domestic violence restraining order or have a felony conviction on their record. Stolen guns also become part of the illegal commerce of guns. Smuggling weapons or ammunition is also a violation of federal firearms trafficking laws.

Violent Federal Crimes Involving Weapons

Violent crimes are not only those recognized as violent, such as murder, rape, or robbery, but also the unlawful use of a firearm to commit a federal crime or committing a crime with an unlicensed or otherwise illegal weapon.  Thus, an individual who transports a legal gun across state lines and a person who commits robbery on federal property with an unpermitted gun are both guilty of federal violent crimes.

Federal Firearms-Related Fraud Charges

Moreover, lying on an application to obtain a gun or otherwise illegally obtaining a firearm permit or forging a permit are all federal gun fraud crimes. Thus, showing a licensed dealer or importer a fake identification card or license is an act of deception that violates federal law (18 U.S.C. 922(a)(6)).

Illegal Gun Sales without a License

When it comes to gun sales, the United States Code governs the sale of firearms, so one who sells guns without a license issued by the Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (AFT) agency is in violation (18 U.S.C. 922(a)(1)(A)) of the Federal Gun Control Act (GCA). Thus, when an individual regularly sells guns to make money, they need a license, not for the occasional sale. However, the number of sales amounting to “selling” firearms is case-by-case.

Even when illegal gun possession, trafficking, or fraud occurs in the state, federal laws may apply, as well as state laws. Accordingly, a New Jersey resident may face both federal and state charges. Both state and federal law in New Jersey prohibits possessing a firearm in a school zone, and it is illegal to transfer or sell guns or ammunition to a minor (18 U.S.C 922 (x)(1)).

Federal Investigations Resulting in Weapons Charges

Illegal guns and accessories are typically discovered in investigations of crimes other than unlawful possession of a weapon and many additional gun charges. For instance, a suspect under investigation for committing robbery may turn out to be a convicted felon when the police conduct a background check, and then illegal possession of a weapon is a charge additional to robbery. Federal investigative agencies, like the FBI or ATF, may issue a warrant for your arrest and appearance in federal court, where the penalties are often stiffer than the state’s and include mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Sentencing for Federal Weapons Offenses

Many federal crimes carry sentences of five to ten years in prison and fines as high as $250,000.00. Possessing an unlawful weapon, such as a machine gun, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine, as is having a non-serialized weapon selling guns without a license. However, making a fraudulent statement to obtain a firearm is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as it is for possessing a weapon as a prohibited person. Possession of a firearm in a school zone carries a five-year prison term.

Using a gun while drug trafficking or committing a violent crime can lead to a sentence of five years for possessing a firearm, seven years for brandishing a weapon, and ten years for shooting a gun. The most severe punishment, however, is when drug trafficking or committing a violent crime ends in a fatality. An accused may face life in federal prison and an additional, consecutive sentence for the gun charge.

How People Get Charged with State and Federal Weapons Crimes in NJ

A person may face federal and state gun charges when their acts constitute a legal violation under both state and federal law. For instance, when someone obtains a handgun without a serial number and without getting a permit, they may be prosecuted under both state and federal law since the act constitutes unlawful possession in both jurisdictions.

The Difference Between Federal and State Gun Charges in New Jersey

Besides the distinct penalties in federal court, as well as the different venue of U.S. District Court for federal charges as opposed to County Superior Court for state charges, another big difference is that New Jersey allows the expungement of gun charges. In contrast, federal gun charges remain on a convicted defendant’s record. Unless they get a presidential pardon or are a young, first-time offender eligible under the Federal First Offender Act or the Youthful Offender Program, they may not get a federal conviction expunged.

Contact a NJ Federal Gun Charge Lawyer Today

If you face weapons charges in federal court in New Jersey, contact The Tormey Law Firm to find help from a skilled criminal defense attorney who knows both legal systems and has a particular concentration in weapons and gun laws. Our depth of knowledge regarding federal and state firearms laws and violations means we are well equipped to assist you through every phase of a federal investigative process and the prosecution that may follow. Once you find out that you are being investigated by federal agencies or have been noted as a suspect in a federal investigation involving weapons, contact us immediately to begin protecting your interests. This is a high stakes time and it needs to be handled properly and proactively. Consult a federal gun crime lawyer free of charge by calling (201) 614-2474.