Middlesex County Possession of Prohibited Weapons and Devices Attorneys

Weapons Charges Lawyers with Offices in North and Central New Jersey

NJ Prohibited Weapons Possession Lawyer
Molotov Cocktail

New Jersey outlaws numerous items that are considered “Prohibited Weapons and Devices,” the possession of which can result in serious criminal weapons charges and associated penalties. At The Tormey Law Firm, our weapons defense attorneys zealously represent clients charged with possession of prohibited weapons and devices, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. We regularly appear in courts across New Jersey, including those in Bergen, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties, to achieve our clients the best possible outcomes. Our defense team includes former gun prosecutors and a former member of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Weapons Forfeiture Unit. We utilize our unique insight into weapons prosecutions to craft the most effective defense strategies for our clients. Contact our offices today at (201)-614-2474 to discuss your case and receive a cost-free consultation.

Possession of Prohibited Weapons and Devices in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, prohibited weapons include highly lethal items such as sawed-off shotguns, untraceable weapons such as defaced firearms, and often overlooked articles such as armor-penetrating bullets. They also include home-made explosives such as Molotov cocktails. The statute that addresses prohibited weapons and devices is found in section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. This statute delineates the degree of this type of charge based on the type of weapon associated with the alleged offense. In general, as the perceived dangerousness of the weapon increases, so too does the severity of the crime and potential penalties for those convicted.

Possession of Destructive Devices

The law prohibits possession of destructive devices, including any device, instrument, or object designed to explode or produce uncontrolled combustion. Destructive devices include: bombs, mines, grenades, rockets, and missiles. They also include Molotov cocktails and other devices consisting of a breakable container containing flammable liquid and having a wick or similar device capable of being ignited (see diagram above). Possession of a destructive device is a third degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Possession of Sawed-Off Shotguns

The law prohibits possession of a sawed-off shotgun, which applies to any shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length measured from the breech to the muzzle, or a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length measured from the breech to the muzzle, or any firearm made from a rifle or a shotgun, whether by alteration, or otherwise, if such firearm as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches. Possession of a sawed-off shotgun is a third degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Possession of Silencers

The law prohibits possession of a silencer, which means any instrument, attachment, weapon or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm to be silent, or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm. Possession of a silencer is a fourth degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Possession of Defaced Firearms

It is unlawful to possess a defaced firearm, which is a firearm that has been altered by means of removing, defacing, covering, or destroying the name of the maker, model designation, manufacturer’s serial number, or any other distinguishing identification mark or number on the firearm. Possession of a defaced firearm is a fourth degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and up to $10,000 fine. In addition, defaced firearm possession is among the crimes governed by The Graves Act, which mandates minimum prison term during which the offender is not eligible for parole. Since possession of a defaced firearm is a fourth degree offense, the Graves Act requires defendants convicted to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 18 months. While a fourth degree crime usually entails a presumption of non-incarceration, defaced firearms offenses under the 2C:39-3 statute do not benefit from this due to the Graves Act mandate.

Possession of Certain Weapons

“Certain weapons” refers to a broad classification of weapons, encompassing gravity knives, switchblade knives, daggers, dirks, stilettos, billy’s, blackjacks, metal knuckles, sandclubs, slingshots, cestus or similar leather bands studded with metal filings or razor blades imbedded in wood, and ballistic knives. If you possess any of these weapons without an explainable lawful purpose, you may be found guilty of a fourth degree crime, which is punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and fines not to exceed $10,000.

Possession of Dum-Dum or Body Armor-Penetrating Bullets

This may apply if you are not a law enforcement officer or person engaged in activities pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-6, who knowingly has in your possession any hollow nose or dum-dum bullets, or (2) if you are a person who knowingly has in your possession any body armor-breaching or penetrating ammunition. The criteria for body armor breaching or penetrating ammunition are as follows:

  • Ammunition primarily designed for use in a handgun, and
  • Comprised of a bullet whose core or jacket, if the jacket is thicker than.025 of an inch, is made of tungsten carbide, or hard bronze, or other material which is harder than a rating of 72 or greater on the Rockwell B. Hardness Scale, and
  • Therefore capable of breaching or penetrating body armor.

Possession of dum-dum or body armor-penetrating bullets is a fourth degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Possession of Stun Guns

The law prohibits possession of a stun gun, including any weapon or other device which emits an electrical charge or current intended to temporarily or permanently disable a person. Possession of a stun gun is a fourth degree crime, punishable by a sentence to serve up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a $10,000 fine maximum.

Possession of Large Capacity Magazines

Per the law in New Jersey, possession of a large capacity magazine, which includes any container, box, tube, or drum capable of containing more than 10 rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly into a semi-automatic firearm, is illegal unless the individual has a registered assault firearm and the magazine is for the purposes of competitive shooting, as allowed by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship of the United States Department of the Army. In all other cases, possession of a high capacity magazine constitutes a crime of the fourth degree, with a potential term of incarceration up to 18 months for those convicted and a fine up to $10,000.

Possession of Handcuffs

Possessing handcuffs is not entirely outlawed in New Jersey; however, it is considered a violation of 2C:39-3 to have handcuffs under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use. This can mean unlawful uses such as using the item to threaten someone else or in the case of handcuffs, detain them against their will. If handcuffs are possessed under circumstances deemed “not manifestly appropriate,” this is a disorderly persons offense with consequences including up to 6 months in the county jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Eligible Exceptions to 2C:39-3

The prohibited weapons and devices statute includes several delineated exceptions to the law for eligible classes of individuals. For instance, members of the Armed Forces of National Guard are exempt with proper authorization by their governing military organization or its regulations, or other laws that apply. A similar exception applies to on-duty law enforcement officers and officers in transit on the way or leaving from an on-duty location. Another exemption is given to police who possess a prohibited device or weapon after lawfully seizing it in based on someone else’s illegal possession of the item or because the weapon is taken as evidence of a crime committed. Officers in these cases must immediately make their superiors aware of the confiscated weapon or device.

Additional Charges in Prohibited Weapons Cases

Possession of any prohibited weapon or device is an offense in and of itself, but this charge may be issued in conjunction with other charges such as possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. For example, using a stun gun to threaten someone else may lead to a person being charged with a violation of 2C:39-3, as well as terroristic threats and possessing a weapon for unlawful purposes. This enhances the potential consequences upon a guilty finding or plea.

Contact our Essex County Possession of Prohibited Weapons Lawyers Today

If you or someone you love has been charged with possession of a prohibited weapon or device, it is critical to begin building your defense as soon as possible. At The Tormey Law Firm, our experience informs the most sophisticated strategies for winning these cases. Contact us at (201)-614-2474 today to learn more.