New Jersey Defaced Firearm Charges
Defaced Firearm Possession Attorneys in New Jersey
New Jersey has a number of strict firearm laws on its books that prosecutors vigorously enforce. One particular charge, known as possession of a defaced firearm, will land you in serious trouble with the law and could lead to significant jail time. Law enforcement takes a particularly dim view of any attempt to file off or otherwise alter identifying information that can allow investigators to trace firearm that may have been used in a burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, or even a murder, and tie it to a particular suspect.
If you own or possess a firearm that has had its serial number or other relevant information removed, you may be charged with a fourth degree indictable offense. A fourth degree crime, similar to a felony in states outside of New Jersey, is punishable by up to 18 months in NJ state prison. Our experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers explain what the state must prove before you can be convicted of a defaced firearm charge and the potential penalties associated with a conviction. If you have been arrested and charged with having a defaced firearm or another prohibited weapon, we can help. Contact us today at (201)-556-1570 to speak with a knowledgeable NJ criminal attorney about your specific weapons case and your legal options. We provide free consultations.
Defaced Firearm Charges in New Jersey
Possession of a defaced firearm is a violation of New Jersey statute NJSA 2C:39-3, which encompasses Prohibited Weapons and Devices. According to this section, possessing a defaced firearm is classified as a fourth degree crime. To prove that you are guilty of possessing a defaced firearm, the state must first prove that you had a firearm, that the firearm was defaced, and that your possession of that firearm was knowing.
Elements of a Defaced Firearm Possession Offense
Turning to the first of these items of proof, we must understand the definition of a firearm, as well as when constitutes “defaced” under New Jersey law. A firearm is defined by NJSA 2C:39-1 as any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or other weapon that fires a projectable ball, slug, pellet, or bullet or flammable or explosive substance. This includes air guns, spring guns, or compressed air guns that have the ability to fire a bullet with sufficient force to hurt someone. Notably, this definition does not include antique firearms or antique handguns, which are defined as rifles, shotguns, or destructive devices that are incapable of being fired, do not fire fixed ammunition, or were manufactured before 1898, which are kept for their historical significance or value.
As mentioned, the state must prove that any firearm as defined above was “defaced.” A firearm is defaced if, for example, the make, model, serial number, or other distinguishing identification number or mark has been removed, altered, covered, or destroyed. For example, you would typically be able to determine that a gun was a Remington, which is the make, and model 870. When the firearm is defaced, this information has been tampered with to avoid identification. The same goes for a serial number, which often indicates where the gun was purchased and who the original purchaser was.
Third, the state must prove that you knowingly possessed the defaced firearm. A person acts knowingly when the circumstances demonstrate that she or he is aware of the fact in question or that the person is aware of a high probability that the fact in question exists. To possess something means to exercise more than a passing or fleeting control over the object. The person must knowingly possess the defaced firearm for a sufficient period of time and/or otherwise exercise control over the defaced firearm to fulfill the final element of this offense.
Punishments for Possessing a Defaced Firearm in NJ
If you are convicted of possessing a defaced firearm, you may be found guilty of a fourth degree crime in New Jersey. You could potentially face up to $10,000 in fines, eighteen months in state prison, and you may also be subject to additional court fines and penalties. Since this charge entails a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders, you may have alternatives such as Pre-Trial Intervention or probation, whereby you can avoid going to jail. In fact, completing PTI successfully will leave you with no criminal record. Having a skilled defense lawyer handling your case is vital when seeking the best outcome.
How a New Jersey Defaced Gun Lawyer can Help You
If you are charged with possessing a defaced firearm, you should consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as humanly possible. An lawyer with experience handling defaced gun and other weapons cases means you will not only understand all of your options, but you can rely on a professional who frequently navigates the court system, knows the nuances of these cases, and can ascertain the most effective way to defend your case. Our firm is committed to providing the best possible defense for clients accused of violating New Jersey weapons laws. We fight charges for guns and other weapons in courts throughout New Jersey on a regular basis, including in Bergen County, Morris County, Passaic County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, and Union County. Call (201)-556-1570 for a free consultation. You can also set up an appointment at one of our convenient offices in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, New Brunswick, or Middletown. Don’t delay in obtaining the guidance you need.