Impact of a Sex Crime Conviction on Your Gun Rights in NJ

Losing Your Second Amendment Rights when You Become a Convicted Sex Offender in New Jersey

Disqualification on Firearms Ownership for Sex Offenses in New Jersey New Jersey prosecutes various sex crimes that range from highly violent, non-consensual penetration, to criminal sexual contact, and lewdness. Sex crimes include aggravated sexual assault, luring, child pornography possession and distribution, and sexual assault. The essence of these crimes involves violence or force during a sexual act, lack of consent or incapacity to consent (such as a child or mentally incapacitated individual), illicit behavior, creating or possessing obscene materials involving minors, and a vast array of other illegal sexual conduct under New Jersey law. You may expect prison time to come with sex offense charges, but more than that, you may be concerned about how a sex crime conviction can impact your Second Amendment rights in New Jersey. Here, we explore the repercussions of a sex offense as it relates to your civil liberties, specifically your ability to purchase, own, or possess a firearm. If you have questions regarding a particular sex crime case and its potential influence on your ability to obtain a gun permit or have a firearm in NJ, contact the seasoned team of lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm for guidance.

Most Sex Offenses are Categorized as Felonies under NJ Law

The penalties for sex crimes vary according to each criminal classification, but most are indictable crimes, commonly referred to as felony offenses. Crimes of the first, second, third, or fourth degree in New Jersey are indictable crimes, meaning a grand jury must indict a defendant, and the criminal sentence for each includes prison time. Indictable crimes are the most serious and are what other states call felonies. The Superior Courts in each county handle indictable crimes. Disorderly persons offenses are not as serious, and Municipal Court judges decide these misdemeanor offense cases, along with traffic infractions and municipal ordinance violations.

Sex crimes fall on a continuum of severity, but the vast majority are indictable offenses. For example, aggravated sexual assault is a first degree crime that carries a 10-to-20-year prison sentence. Second degree sexual assault is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. Aggravated criminal sexual contact is a third degree crime with a potential sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison. Fourth degree criminal sexual contact is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. On the other hand, lewdness is often a disorderly persons offense, meaning a conviction could result in up to 6 months in jail. It can be a fourth degree crime, though, depending on the circumstances of the case.

A Felony Sex Crime Conviction Means You Lose Your Firearms Rights in NJ

A conviction for an indictable crime is a disqualifying factor for gun ownership in New Jersey. Certain persons may not buy, own, or possess firearms, according to New Jersey law, and a felon is a certain person who loses their gun rights. You must have a valid gun permit to purchase a firearm in New Jersey, either a permit to purchase a handgun or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC), depending on the type of firearm you are interested in buying. An individual convicted of an indictable crime (or domestic violence disorderly persons offense), or someone who is a convicted felon from another state, cannot get a handgun purchaser or carry permit, or an FPIC in New Jersey.

Additionally, while New Jersey law allows you to expunge your record of certain criminal convictions once you have completed your sentence and paid your fines, sexual offenses such as sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a child, producing or disseminating child pornography, and others are not eligible for expungement. An expungement erases a criminal conviction from your record so that you can apply for a firearm and answer truthfully about your past criminal history when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime that has not otherwise been expunged, but it does not prevent law enforcement from seeing your record when you submit a gun permit application. You can read more about expungements to obtain firearms permits here: Expungements to Restore Gun Rights.

The critical takeaway is that you essentially lose your Second Amendment right to bear arms when you have a sex crime felony conviction on your criminal record.

What Happens if a Convicted Sex Offender is Found in Possession of a Weapon in New Jersey?

N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7 is the law that forbids certain persons, like those with mental illness, involved in a domestic violence incident, or felons, to purchase, own, or possess a firearm. That means a person with an indictable sex crime conviction violates the law when they have a gun. If convicted, possession of a firearm as a convicted sex offender may result in a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years and a $150,000.00 fine. This is a second degree crime. Even worse, a certain persons violation for a gun triggers the Graves Act. The Graves Act requires judges to sentence convicted defendants to a mandatory minimum prison term during which there is no possibility of parole. Thus, a sex offender convicted of a certain persons violation for possessing a firearm faces a minimum of between one-third and one-half of the prison sentence imposed or 42 months, without the possibility of parole during that time.

Facing Loss of Your Civil Liberties Due to a Sex Offense in NJ?

Sex offenders are treated harshly under New Jersey law. However, a gun possession violation after a sex crime conviction can make a bad situation far worse. If you face criminal charges for possessing a weapon as a convicted sex offender or you have been charged with a sex crime and you want to avoid losing your Second Amendment rights by getting the charges dismissed, talk to an attorney at The Tormey Law Firm urgently to get a jump start on your defense. Our lawyers can clarify any doubts about the charges against you and outlay the various options you may have. We offer free consultations that are completely confidential and we welcome your inquiries regarding sex crimes and defense, gun rights in New Jersey, and weapons charges.

With decades of combined experience, our legal team has extensive knowledge in these areas and we handle the many cases that often result when they intersect. Most importantly, our criminal defense attorneys will counsel you throughout the process, standing by your side as your advocates and allies. Contact us at (201)-556-1570.


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If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

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