New Jersey Gun Charges Attorney
Have you been charged with possession of a weapon in New Jersey? If so you need a tough and experienced criminal defense attorney. James R. Wronko has practiced criminal law for 28 years. He is a former N. J. Deputy Attorney General (state Prosecutor with the Division of Criminal Justice) and former County Assistant Prosecutor. He represents people throughout New Jersey who face a variety of criminal charges.
The Attorney you choose does matter! Let a Former Prosecutor Help You.
Contact Wronko Loewen Benucci
Email : Wronko@newjerseylawyer.org
I handle all types of weapons offenses including unlawful possession of firearms and all types of guns, knives, blackjacks and other types of weapons. I am a former State Prosecutor and former Somerset County Assistant Prosecutor. I know how a prosecutor builds a weapons offense case and I know how to take the case apart from a defense’s perspective. I have the required experience to do forensic evaluation of your facts and layout a game plan for a winning defense. I will meet with you face-to-face in my office to discuss all aspects of your case. I will explain the legal process in clear and understandable terms. I will be at your side throughout the entire legal process.
Defending Guns and Weapons Charges
Most guns and weapons are found as a result of a police search of a car, house or personal belongings. The key is whether the police officer had a legal right to conduct a search of your property. The general law says that the police must have probable cause and a warrant in order to search your property. There are, however, some exceptions to the warrant requirement. If the police conducted a search without a warrant, they may have violated your constitutional rights resulting in an illegal search. This may result in the weapon being suppressed and all charges dismissed.
You may be eligible for New Jersey’s first offender program which is called Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). This may be a good option to avoid a criminal record. Pre-Trial Intervention is a diversionary program for first-offenders in New Jersey. It requires you to be under court supervision for a short period of time and remain law abiding. The charges will be dismissed at the end of the court supervision period.
Your Presumption of Innocence Protects You from Conviction
Depending on the facts of your particular case, our options might include working toward dismissal of the charges, convincing the court to suppress the evidence of any weapons offense based on constitutional issues, or challenging the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. We never overlook the value of your presumption of innocence in developing your defense strategy.
Our law firm handles such weapons offenses and gun charges as the following:
- Unlawful possession of a weapon, such as possession by a convicted felon
- Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, such as robbery or assault
- Possession of a handgun without a permit or a license
- Juvenile weapons charges like possession of a weapon by juvenile
- Weapons offenses alleged against people on probation or parole
- Failure to surrender a gun while on conditional release or after a domestic violence arrest
- BB gun, Airsoft Gun or Paintball Gun Offenses
- Certain person offenses
- Illegal weapons
- Imitation firearm offenses
- Possession of a firearm for unlawful purpose
- Possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle
- Possession of a handgun
- Possession of a rifle or shotgun without a permit or license
- Possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime
- Possession of a weapon or firearm at an educational institution
- Possession of a weapon or a firearm during a commission of a drug offense
No matter what weapons charge you happen to be facing, you can count on James Wronko to handle your case with skill and careful attention to your unique circumstances.
New Jersey Law: Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) provides that “any person who knowingly has in his possession any weapon [other than a handgun, rifle, shotgun or machine gun] under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.” The elements of this offense include: (1) the existence of a weapon;(2) possession by the defendant; (3) knowledge of the nature and character of the instrument by the defendant; and (4) circumstances demonstrating that object was not manifestly appropriate for lawful use.
Definition of Weapon” under 2C:39-5
Weapon means anything readily capable of lethal or inflicting serious bodily injury. In addition to firearms the term weapon includes gravity knives, switchblades, daggers, dirks, stilettos, or other dangerous knives, billies, blackjacks, bludgeons, mental knuckles, sandclubs, slingshots, cestis or similar leather bands studded with metal filing or razors blades embedded in wood, stun guns and any other weapon which projects, release or emits tear gas or any other substance intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air.
Actual or Constructive Possession
Possession is established where there is either direct control over the object or where an individual is aware of the existence of the object and has the ability and intention to exercise control over the item.
Circumstances Not Manifestly Appropriate for Lawful Use
Circumstances not manifestly appropriate encompass either a threat of harm to a person or threat of damage to property. For example, possession of a paintball gun for purpose of firing it at an automobile would not be manifestly appropriate for lawful use. A paintball gun obviously could be possessed for lawful use but when the situation involves inappropriateness, the character becomes illegal. A good test for determining whether a use is lawful or illegal is consider the New Jersey Model Jury Question: “if you find that the circumstances under which the weapon was possessed could not be easily understood or recognized as being appropriate to a lawful use of the instrument in question here then possession of the weapon is prohibited.” You could apply this question to possession of a knife and facts like size, shape, condition, means of concealment, and the nature in which the knife was used would be highly relevant.
It must be kept in mind that this offense is separate and apart from Possession of a Weapon or Firearm for Unlawful Purpose, Possession of a Firearm Without a Permit, or Possession of an Illegal Handgun. This is an independent offense which applies under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) when included in a complaint, charge or indictment. There is significant similarity between this offense and a Possession of an Illegal Weapon. Both charges are Fourth Degree crimes and require many of the same elements in order to prove a violation. Unlawful Possession of a Weapon is a much broader charge, however, as it has the potential to encompass virtually anything other than a firearm that can be used as a weapon whereas an Illegal Weapons offense is limited to a specific enumerated weapon set forth by statute such as a sawed off shotgun, high capacity magazine, silencer, hollow tip bullets, assault rifle, or body armer.
Self defense is a viable defense to a charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) but is limited to those circumstances where its use is spontaneous in response to a compelling danger. The defense cannot be invoked where an individual is carrying the weapon as a precaution.
Possession of a Handgun: Unlawful, Unlicensed & Without a Permit
It is illegal to possess a handgun or pistol in NJ absent a properly issued license, permit or exemption under the law. It is also important to keep in mind that this regulation applies to both resident and non-resident. This fact often comes as a major surprise to individuals visiting or passing through the state who are in possession of a handgun (e.g. trucker or other individual carrying for protection). A valid license issued in another state does not absolve an individual from compliance with NJ laws concerning guns. See State v. Hatch, 64 N.J. 179, 185, 313 A.2d 797, 799 (1973). The penalties for possessing a pistol without a permit or license under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b are also very severe so it is crucially important that anyone charged with this offense retain an experienced attorney.
New Jersey Handgun Law: Possession without a Permit or License
Possession of a handgun without a license, also referred to as Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, is outlined at N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b of NJ law. This regulation prohibits an individual from knowingly possessing a handgun without obtaining a carry permit. The fundamental elements needed to be established beyond reasonable doubt under 2C:39-5b to obtain a conviction of this offense are: (1) the existence of a handgun; (2) knowing possession of the handgun; and (3) the lack of a permit. For purposes of this law, a “handgun” includes a pistol, revolver or any other firearm designed to fire a solid projectile, ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet by means of a cartridge or shell or by action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances by the use of a single hand. “Possession” can be either actual, that is, direct control on an individual’s person, or constructive possession. An individual has constructive possession of a handgun when he is aware of the existence of the firearm and has the ability and intention to control it. An individual must also lack a permit or license to be guilty under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b. In this regard, the New Jersey handgun laws impose a presumption that a defendant does not possess a license, identification card or permit unless he establishes to the contrary. A jury is allowed to infer that no permit existed and then it is up to the suspect to come forward in a case under 2C:39-5b with evidence establishing a valid permit. It is also important to keep in mind that while self-defense is a proper defense under the law, it only applies where the defendant spontaneously arms himself to defend against an immediate danger. The possession is illegal where an individual arms himself with a handgun before the danger becoming imminent.
NJ Penalties for Unlicensed Possession of a Handgun, Pistol or Revolver
A conviction for possession of a handgun without a carry permit is a Second Degree crime. A Second Degree Offense carries a period of incarceration in jail or prison of between 5 and 10 years. Additionally, a conviction for this charge falls within the Graves Act. The Graves Act imposes a period of parole ineligibility that an individual serve in jail before they are eligible for parole.
Large-Firm Trial Experience with Small-Firm Client Service
Wronko Loewen Benucci, Attorneys at Law
Phone: (908) 704-9200
69 Grove St
Somerville, NJ 08876
1130 Route 202 South
Raritan, NJ 08869
54 Main Street, Suite 104
Succasunna, NJ 07876