Possession of a Weapon
New Jersey has numerous statutes that relate to weapons. One of those statutes is N.J.S. 2C:39-5. That statute relates to simply having a weapon in one's possession. Under that statute, any person who knowingly has in his possession any weapon “under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have” is guilty of a crime.
N.J.S. 2C:39-5 has subparts. These subparts differentiate between the different types of weapons that might be possessed. Firearms, generally, are considered more serious than possession of other types of weapons. Subpart (e) also specifies separate crimes for possession of firearms, and imitation firearms, in educational facilities. Note that criminal culpability under N.J.S. 2C:39-5 does not require any unlawful intent.
A different statute deals with possession of weapons with unlawful intent. That statute is N.J.S. 2C:39-4. The unlawful purpose would be purpose to use the weapon unlawfully against the person or property of another. As with N.J.S. 2C:39-5, N.J.S. 2C:39-4 distinguishes between different types of weapons. Thus firearms, explosives, and destructive devices are treated more harshly than other types of weapons. A person can be charged and found guilty of both N.J.S. 2C:39-5 and N.J.S. 2C:39-4, both arising from a single event.
N.J.S. 2C:39-3 declares that some weapons are prohibited, period. “Lawful circumstances” or absence of unlawful purpose are irrelevant. Those weapons include “destructive devices,” sawed-off shotguns, silencers, defaced firearms, dum-dum or body armor penetrating bullets, and large capacity ammunition magazines. Exceptions exist for law enforcement officers on duty, and for specified military personnel. Handcuffs are also prohibited under this section, in the absence of manifestly appropriate circumstances.
“Weapon” means anything readily capable of lethal use or capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. Concerning “possess,” we all have an intuitive idea of what that means. The legal definition, however, is quite precise. It is also quite complicated. We discuss possession in great detail elsewhere on this site.
The statutes that we have been describing contain qualifications and exceptions. Those qualifications and exceptions are too numerous for a page of this nature. Persons facing weapons charges must be guided by the wording of the statutes themselves and, also, by how these statutes have been interpreted by the courts.
All weapons offenses defined in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice are felonies. Criminal Lawyers in New Jersey have successfully defended persons charged with weapons offenses numerous times. Their combined experience exceeds sixty-five years. They are available to review your charges in a no-cost no-obligation conference.