Elizabeth NJ Unlawful Purposes Defense Lawyer
The offense of possession of weapon for unlawful purpose is a felony that has the potential for extreme consequences, especially when the object involved is a firearm. It is a second degree crime that carries up to 10 years in prison to possess a handgun, rifle or shotgun with an unlawful purpose. And even when another variety of weapon is involved, the offense is still an indictable crime of the third or fourth degree where there is state prison exposure. Given the seriousness of this violation, you definitely should seek legal representation, preferably from an experienced weapons offense defense attorney as soon as possible. Our firm is available for free consultation to assist you in this regard and we feature several former prosecutors and staff of lawyers with over 100 years experience. We can be reached 24/7 at 908-272-1700.
NJ Possession of a Weapon For Unlawful Purposes Law: N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, which is captioned “possession of weapons for unlawful purposes”, is the law that applies to this offense. The statute is divided into categories based on the type of weapon involved. The following is the grading that applies to each form of weapon, as well as other important characteristics:
- Firearms. It is a second degree crime, as previously stated, to possess a firearm for the purpose of using it unlawfully against the person or property of another. Additionally, subsection (a)(2) requires that a period of parole ineligibility be imposed in the event that an individual is found guilty under this section.
- Explosives & Other Destructive Devices. Where the weapon falls within either description, it is also a second degree crime under 2C:39-4.
- Imitation Firearms. This is a fourth degree crime.
- All Other Weapons. If the weapon is something other than the types previously set forth, a violation is a third degree crime.
How Is “Weapon” Defined For Purposes Of This Charge?
The term “weapon” is defined broadly under the New Jersey Criminal Code. It includes any object or device that is capable of being used to inflict “serious bodily injury”, that is, to create a “substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” If something has the ability to be swung, plunged, sprayed or utilized in any fashion so as to cause this level of injury, then it qualifies as a “weapon” under this law.
What Constitutes an “Unlawful Purpose” Under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4?
An individual possesses an “unlawful purpose” when it is his/her intention to utilize the weapon unlawfully against a person or property. Possession alone of a weapon does not therefore constitute a violation of 2C:39-4 as the state must prove that the accused intended to use it in a criminal manner in order to support a conviction. Accordingly, if it is an individual’s purpose to possess the item for sport, work, self-protection or another reason which is other than to use it criminally, there is no unlawful purpose. This defense can, however, be lost if the holder of the weapon charges his/her purpose and later forms an intent to use it unlawfully. An example of this would be a construction worker who loses his cool and decides to use one of this tools against a third party. The worker’s original intent was to use the hammer, screw driver, utility knife in conjunction with his work but then formed an unlawful intention to use it against someone.
Penalties & Sentencing
Regardless of the weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is an indictable offense. This means that jurisdiction to decide this charge rests with the Union County Superior Court. This court is located in Elizabeth NJ. The penalties an individual faces in this court for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 hinge on the degree of crime. For second degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, an individual faces 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes carries a maximum of 5 years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. A fourth degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes results in a jail term that can reach 18 months, along with a maximum fine of $10,000.
There is also a mandatory minimum term of incarceration that must be imposed at the time of sentencing if the weapon involved under 2C:39-4 is a firearm. This results in the imposition of a period of parole ineligibility of between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 years, whichever is greater. Thus, an individual will have to serve, at a very minimum, 3 years in state prison under this law before he/she can even be considered for parole.
Weapon Offense Defense Attorney, Linden New Jersey
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has attorneys experienced in handling felony weapon offenses arising out of Linden, Elizabeth, Plainfield and other municipalities in Union County. Time and time again we have successfully defended clients facing second, third, or fourth degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose charges. Call the our Cranford office today for your free initial consultation and case evaluation by one of our former prosecutors at 908-272-1700.