New Jersey Attorneys for Return of Weapons in Domestic Violence Cases
When you are facing the loss of your weapons due to an alleged act of domestic violence, your rights hang in the balance. Not only does the removal of your weapons mean the immediate loss of your property, but it means the loss of your right to purchase, own, possess, or control another weapon in New Jersey. Essentially, you become the equivalent of a convicted felon whose legal right to bear arms in revoked in the eyes of the law. As a result, it is essential to attack the State’s case against you, to ensure the return of your weapons, and to restore your hard-earned reputation. At a weapons forfeiture hearing, an experienced and aggressive attorney can truly spell the difference between a positive or negative result.
The seasoned criminal defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm have accumulated a wealth of knowledge in the realm of domestic violence and weapons defense in New Jersey. Our lawyers fight to protect the rights of those facing restraining orders, criminal defendants in cases involving domestic violence, and those who are seeking the return of their weapons after alleged domestic violence incidents. Our highly acclaimed legal team includes several former county prosecutors, one of whom served in the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Weapons Forfeiture unit, and former members of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. In addition, our firm’s founder Travis J. Tormey was recently named among the Top 10 Criminal Attorneys in New Jersey by the American Jurist Institute. If you are seeking the return of your weapons after an alleged domestic violence incident, we can help. Contact our offices anytime at (201)-614-2474 to find the answers to your questions with a cost-free consultation.
Return of Weapons and Domestic Violence in New Jersey
In New Jersey, all weapons seized under the purview of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act must be immediately transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office in the county in which the alleged act of domestic violence occurred. Investigating officers must also provide the Prosecutor’s Office with the accused’s firearms purchase identification card and permit, the domestic violence incident report, and a copy of the temporary restraining order if applicable.
Upon receipt of the weapons and associated articles, the Prosecutor’s Office must determine whether or not to file a forfeiture action within 45 days. The forfeiture action is a formal request to obtain the title to the seized weapon, permanently remove the weapon(s) from the person’s possession, and/or revoke the person’s permits, licenses, and authorizations to use, possess, or own a weapon. It is important to note that if the Prosecutor’s Office fails to file a forfeiture action within the 45-day window, the weapons must be returned.
Return of Weapons Hearings in New Jersey
If the Prosecutor’s Office files a forfeiture action, a hearing must be held at the Superior Court in the same county within 45 days of the Prosecutor’s notice. At the forfeiture hearing, the Court will determine whether to return the weapon(s) or to permanently remove the weapon(s) from the person’s possession.
In order to return the weapon(s), the Court must find that:
- The owner is not subject to any disabilities set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c (which governs the purchase of firearms); AND
- The domestic violence complaint has been dismissed at the request of the complainant and the County Prosecutor has determined that there is no basis to indict; or
- The defendant was found not guilty of the domestic violence charges; or
- The domestic violence situation no longer exists.
If the Court decides not to return the weapon(s), it can elect to do one of the following:
- Except in the case of firearms: order the County Prosecutor to dispose of the weapons if the owner does not arrange for the transfer or sale of the weapons to an appropriate person within 60 days; or
- In the case of firearms: order that the owner’s firearms purchaser identification card or any permit, license or authorization be revoked; and order that the owner surrender any firearm seized and all other firearms possessed to the County Prosecutor; and order that the County Prosecutor dispose of the firearm(s) if the owner does not arrange for the sale of the firearms to a registered firearms dealer within 60 days.
The law also provides the Court with the discretion to order any other such relief as it deems appropriate.
The Consequences of Weapons Not Returned in New Jersey Domestic Violence Cases
New Jersey law is extremely restrictive with regard to individuals whose firearms are seized and not returned in connection with alleged domestic violence. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c(8): “No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued…To any person whose firearm is seized pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 and whose firearm has not been returned.”
In addition, New Jersey statute N.J.SA. 2C:39-7b, known as “Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons,” prohibits a person whose whose firearm is seized pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act,” and whose firearm has not been returned, or a person who is subject to a restraining order, from purchasing, owning, possessing, or controlling a firearm. A violation of this law is considered a third degree felony, which is punishable by a sentence to serve between 3 and 5 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of up to $15,000.
Ultimately, this means that if your weapons are seized and not returned after an alleged act of domestic violence, you lose all rights with regard to weapons purchasing, possession, and ownership in New Jersey. Notably, this prohibition remains in effect for a minimum of 2 years or for as long as the restraining order is in effect, whichever is longer.
Contact our Morris County Domestic Violence Weapons Return Lawyers Today
If you have been accused of domestic violence and are facing a weapons forfeiture case, your Second Amendment rights are under attack. To ensure that your rights are protected and vigorously advocated for, contact our New Jersey weapons forfeiture attorneys today at (201)-614-2474.