Illegal Possession of Hollow Nose or Hollow Point Bullets in New Jersey

A Fourth Degree Felony Charge Punishable by 18 Months in Prison

Hollow Point Bullets in New Jersey A hollow nose bullet (also known as a “hollow point bullet”) is exactly what the name say it is, a bullet with a hollow nose.  The tip of the bullet is designed to have a small pocket or cavern, which allows the round to expand.  This is different from other bullets that tend to have a solid sharp point or dome at the top.  The purpose of the hollow tip is allow expansion, which in turn, creates more damage upon impact. Moreover, the broadening and mushrooming of the round after collision tends to result in the bullet remaining inside the target, as opposed to passing through it.  Consequently, this type of ammunition is very dangerous and many States have passed legislation regulating its use, including in New Jersey.

If you have been arrested and charged with illegal possession of hollow point bullets in NJ, we can help. Our experienced firearms defense lawyers have handled many of these cases like yours with tremendous results. This serious felony charge does not necessarily need to end up in a felony record and prison time. Contact our defense lawyers now for immediate assistance and a free initial consultation.

Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets

Our Criminal Code outlaws hollow nose bullets under certain circumstances.  Specifically, the controlling statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3, reads as follows, any person who knowingly has in his possession any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A fourth degree offense is considered a felony and accordingly, subjects a person to possible prison time (up to 18 months) as well as a number of fines and other monetary penalties.

Nevertheless, New Jersey does not outright ban the possession of hollow nose bullets.  The statute outlines several types of individuals who are allowed to carry the particular round and also describes certain locations where the bullets may be legally kept.  First, with respect to authorized individuals, the prohibition does not apply to law enforcement or military personnel, which includes the National Guard.  It also permits employees or agents of Nuclear Power Plants to have access to hollow nose bullets.  Furthermore, a collector of firearms who acquires and maintains the bullets as curios or relics is permitted to own the ammunition.  However, the collector must have a valid collector’s license issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  Lastly, the statute does not apply to members of authorized rifle and pistol clubs who obtain and use the rounds for target practice, provided the club annually submits its charter to the state police and the police approve.

Second, with regard to locations, a person is allowed to keep hollow nose bullets in their home or any other property they own. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(g)(2)(a) provides that “nothing in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f)(1) shall be construed to prevent a person from keeping such ammunition at his dwelling, premises, or other land owned or possessed by him.”

The statute also permits the use of the rounds if the person goes target shooting or hunting.   Additionally, it permits the transport of the ammunition from the location of where it was purchased to the person’s home or property as well as to and from any target ranges and hunting locations.  The statute also allows licensed retailers or firearm dealers to possess the rounds at their place of business provided that the seller maintains a record of the person who purchased the bullets alongside the date of sale and quantity of ammunition sold.

Further, it’s important to note, when transporting hollow nose bullets and firearms, you cannot simply place your weapons and ammunition in your glove box or backseat of your vehicle.  To legally travel with the items, the person must place the firearms and bullets in the trunk of the car, unloaded, and inside a locked case or gun box. Additionally, you must travel directly to and from the two locations.  You are only permitted a reasonable and necessary detour such as stopping for gas, medical need, restroom, or dropping up a passenger.  If you unnecessarily deviate from your destination, you may be charged with unlawful possession.

In sum, for the average citizen, you can possess hollow nose bullets in your home and you may use the rounds for hunting or target practice.

Purchase of Hollow Nose Bullets

In addition to limiting certain forms of possession, New Jersey also mandates who can purchase hollow nose bullets.  In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3.3, it shall be unlawful for any person to purchase, receive or otherwise acquire handgun ammunition unless the individual possesses a valid firearms purchaser identification card and permit to purchase a handgun, or a valid permit to carry a handgun.  Any person who purchases the ammunition without the proper credentials is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

To obtain a permit, one must submit an application with their local police department.  Many departments allow online submissions but if your municipality does not, you can visit the department’s headquarters to pick up the proper documentation.  The application consists of several questions regarding a person’s background.  It will ask whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, whether you were ever adjudicated a juvenile delinquent, are you the subject of any restraining orders, have you ever been civilly committed, and whether you suffer from any mental health  issues or have any substance abuse problems.  Furthermore, the application will request that you provide two character references.  It will also request that you submit an authorization of release, which will allow the police to examine your medical history.  And lastly, you must get fingerprinted so the police can determine whether you have a criminal background.

The process takes 30-days to complete, sometimes more, depending on whether any issues arise with the submission.  If the application is granted, you will receive a letter in the mail stating your permits have been issued.  If they are denied, you can appeal the decision.  You must submit a notice of appeal within 30-days of receipt of the denial letter with the Superior Court.  You must also serve a copy of the appeal upon the chief of police.  Once the appeal is filed, the Court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the permit was lawfully denied.

Fourth Degree Felony – Penalties

If you are charged with unlawful possession or unlawful purchase of hollow nose bullets, you may be subjected to the following penalties.  You can be sentenced to prison for up to 18-months or you may be ordered to serve between one to five years of probation.  A person may also be required to pay a fine of $10.000.   Furthermore, the individual will be obligated to pay a number of mandatory fines which include, $50.00 Victims of Crime Compensation Board fine, $75.00 Safe Neighborhoods Service Fund fine, and a $30.00 Law Enforcement Officers Training and Equipment Fund fine.

To determine the proper sentence, the Judge must weigh the aggravating and mitigating factors listed under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1.  At first, the Court will decide the type of sentence to impose, meaning, whether the individual should be sent to prison, should be given probation, or ordered to pay a fine.  The Court can also sentence a person to combination of each penalty.  Once a decision is made regarding the type of punishment, the Judge will then determine the length of the sentence or the amount of the fine.  This decision is made by appraising the same   aggravating and mitigating factors.  The aggravating factors include: the nature and circumstances surrounding the offense, whether anyone was seriously harmed, the risk that the defendant will reoffend, whether the defendant has a prior criminal background, whether the victim was a vulnerable individual, and whether the underlying offense involved domestic violence.  The mitigating factors comprise of: the underlying conduct did not cause or threaten any serious harm, the defendant acted under strong provocation, there were substantial grounds that tend to excuse the underlying behavior, the defendant compensated or will compensate the victim, the defendant does not have a criminal past, it is unlikely that the defendant will commit another offense, imprisonment will pose an excessive hardship, and the defendant cooperated with the police.

Using those factors, as well as any other relevant information, the Sentencing Judge will start in the middle of the statutory range.  For fourth-degree offenses, the middle of the range is 9-months. If the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, the sentence will be above 9-monhts.  Conversely, if the mitigating factors prevail, the sentence will be lower.

The Pre-Trial Intervention Program in New Jersey for First Time Offenses

If you are facing a 4th degree felony charge for possession of hollow point bullets, you may be eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention program, known as PTI, for first time offenders. This program places you on probation and, if you successfully comply with the terms of the probation, they dismiss the case at the end. You can only use this program once in your life and you can’t have a prior criminal history to be eligible for the program.

If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of hollow nose bullets and need help, contact our experienced firearms and ammunition lawyers now for immediate assistance and a free initial consultation. We can walk you through the process and get you the best possible resolution in court.