What Happens When You Get Charged with Gun Possession in New Brunswick NJ?
New Brunswick Gun Possession Lawyers
Let’s be blunt: you do not want to be charged with illegal gun possession in New Brunswick, New Jersey or anywhere else in this state for that matter. New Brunswick serves as the county seat of Middlesex County, and it’s one of the most heavily populated cities in the county. More than that, New Brunswick is a major transportation hub for all of Central Jersey, with thousands of people traveling through the city each day while commuting to and from work on highways that include the New Jersey Turnpike, U.S. Route 1, and U.S. Route 8, as well as nearby roadways like the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 287. Every day, motorists drive on these roads. And every day, some of these motorists are stopped by police while driving. What if police find a handgun or other firearm in your vehicle during one of these traffic stops? The truth is that you will probably be arrested and face very serious criminal charges that could destroy your life. It is important to understand what happens when you get charged with gun possession in New Brunswick, NJ and to get help from an experienced New Brunswick gun lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
Attorney William A. Proetta, Esq. is a highly distinguished criminal defense lawyer who has successfully handled a multitude of guns and weapons cases in New Brunswick and Middlesex County over the course of his career. Call (732) 659-9600 today to discuss your charges for unlawful possession of a firearm, possessing a handgun for an unlawful purpose, or another gun-related offense in New Brunswick NJ, and receive a free consultation.
Charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in New Brunswick NJ
The Second Amendment gives individuals the right to legally possess a firearm. However, individual states are still able to place restrictions on this right. New Jersey, in particular, has gone in an extreme direction to place severe limitations on the ability of residents to legally possess just about any kind of firearm, including handguns, rifles, and even imitation firearms. In order to purchase and own a firearm in NJ, you must first apply for and obtain something known as a “firearms purchaser identification card.” Most charges for unlawful possession of a firearm stem from someone being found with a gun for which they do not have a valid gun permit.
Although it is possible to be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with another crime such as armed robbery or aggravated assault, illegal handgun possession charges are often brought against a person who is found with a gun in their car, home, or other property. Gun possession can be either actual or constructive, which means that you can be charged with unlawful possession of a weapon even if you are not carrying the weapon or do not otherwise have the weapon on your person. If police obtain a search warrant for your residence in New Brunswick and find a gun on the premises, you could face handgun possession charges as well. Similarly, you could be arrested for unlawfully possessing a gun if police pull you over while driving and they subsequently discover a gun in your glovebox. This type of charge is also common for out-of-state residents who drive through Middlesex County and the state of New Jersey with a gun in their car. Even if they have a permit or license to carry the weapon in their home state, that won’t necessarily help them when they are in New Jersey, as they can still be charged with unlawful possession of a gun.
Degrees & Penalties for New Brunswick Gun Possession Charges
Second Degree Illegal Possession of a Handgun in New Brunswick
As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b of the New Jersey Criminal Code, illegal possession of a handgun is a felony offense. More specifically, gun possession is a second degree crime, which means that it carries a possible sentence of 5-10 years in prison for anyone who is convicted or who pleads guilty to the charges. Additionally, it is important for anyone charged with gun possession to recognize that the charge has a presumption of incarceration. In other words, if you are convicted of unlawful possession of a gun in New Brunswick, it is extremely likely that you will have to serve time in state prison. According to the laws of this state, being convicted of a second degree gun possession charge means that normally, the judge must sentence you to prison with a minimum period of incarceration. This is true even if you are a first-time offender with no prior criminal convictions on your record. The statutory basis for a minimum mandatory prison sentence in NJ gun cases is the Graves Act, which stipulates that courts must sentence defendants to prison time for certain gun-related offenses, including illegal handgun possession. If the Graves Act applies in your case, not only could the court be required to sentence you to at least three (3) years in prison, but you would not be eligible for release on parole during that time.
Third Degree BB Gun Charges in New Brunswick
The Graves Act does not apply to possession charges involving imitation firearms or BB guns and Air guns. This is an important distinction because it means that a conviction for unlawful possession of a BB gun will not trigger an automatic prison sentence. However, it should be noted that BB guns are still considered “firearms” for the purposes of the criminal statute, which means that you can be charged with a crime, and face possible prison time, if you are caught in possession of a BB gun or any similar kind of weapon. You must obtain a permit to own and/or carry one of these firearms. The penalties for illegal possession of a BB gun are still severe, and they include a sentence of 3-5 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $15,000. This type of weapons offense is classified as a third degree felony. The good news, however, is that the step-down from a second degree felony has huge implications for the defendant: a third degree charge does not come with a presumption of incarceration.
Local New Brunswick NJ Attorneys for Aggressive Defense Against Gun Charges
The consequences of a gun crime conviction can be absolutely devastating to your life, your family, and your future. If you’ve been arrested on a weapons-related charge in New Brunswick, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney who is prepared to aggressively defend you against the gun charges. Getting a lawyer who defends gun charges on a regular basis in the Middlesex County Superior Court can make all the difference in the world in your New Brunswick handgun possession case. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, it might be possible for your attorney to raise constitutional issues and challenge the police search and seizure that turned up evidence of an illegal gun in the first place. Without admissible evidence that you “possessed” a gun, the prosecutor may find themselves unable to prove the elements of their case.
An experienced New Brunswick criminal defense lawyer can also help you in other ways. The court process in these cases is complicated, and a lawyer can help guide you through the legal system and put you in the best possible position when negotiating with the prosecutor. For instance, although the Graves Act limits the ability of prosecutors to offer plea deals in most felony gun cases, it may still be possible for your lawyer to help you secure a Graves Act Waiver so that you can avoid minimum mandatory sentencing as a first-time offender by being allowed to enter a diversionary program like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or receiving probation. Applications for a Graves Act Waiver are not always approved, and the prosecutor will consider a number of factors, including whether you obtained the gun legally, whether anyone’s safety was put at risk by the gun, and whether you have ever been arrested, charged, and/or convicted of a crime. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can be invaluable when applying for the waiver and supporting your candidacy.
The lawyers at our firm know the ins and outs of gun crimes, the Graves Act, and the process for obtaining Graves Act Waivers in New Brunswick and Middlesex County, having done this for clients for years. Contact our office now at (732) 659-9600 if you find yourself arrested and charged with a firearm.