Unlawful Possession of Assault Firearms – N.J.S. 2C:39-5(f) – What are the penalties for Unlawful Possession of Assault Weapons – NJ Assault Firearms Charges

“Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm in New Jersey is a second degree felony crime. Those convicted of these charges face up to 10 years of imprisonment and mandatory time before the possibility of parole.”

unlawful possession of an assault rifle nj

You do not want to get caught with assault firearms in New Jersey, as you are exposed to some of the most harsh sentences for guns in the nation. New Jersey Administrative Code Title 13, Chapter 54 sets forth a list of numerous assault weapons or firearms by name, but also broadly covers semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns, virtually any automatic or semi-automatic and large capacity ammunition magazines, including military rifles that shoot bullets continuously or single bullet per trigger pull automatic and semi-automatic guns. The law prohibits knowingly transferring or owning any of these weapons and ones that are substantially the same, meaning identical in ways other than the color, materials to make the barrel, stock and grips of the guns. The penalties for possession of an assault weapon in New Jersey are severe, not only exposing those charged with these violations to mandatory prison sentences, but also to mandatory time that must be served before becoming eligible for parole.

The Tormey Law firm has a series of advanced defense strategies for gun charges and we have implemented these defenses with great success in New Jersey.  Please watch our video series on “How to Beat Gun Charges” and feel free call us to discuss the specific details of your case: (201)-556-1570.

Defining Assault Firearms and Weapons in New Jersey

Unlawful Possession of Assault Firearms in New Jersey is a subjective law; how do they determine what counts as an assault rifle?  Regular rifles are legal, so you may be wondering what ends up adding the word “assault” to the definition?

Technically, the term “assault rifle” is a military term used to describe a weapon that is capable of shifting from burst fire to fully automatic fire.  This obviously has very lethal implications, though one could assume that an assault rifle would be great to use for hunting. It takes two features of the prohibited four listed in the definition of weapons statute (N.J.S.A. 2C-39-1) to make a semi-automatic rifle illegal and thus, banned along with semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines that likewise have two of the barred features, such as a flash suppressor or threaded barrel that can bear a barrel extender. No guns may have bump stocks (creates rapid succession firing) on them. Shotguns with a fixed magazine capacity of six rounds and a pistol grip (extends below the weapon), among other prohibited features, are likewise substantially identical to an automatic weapon and therefore, illegal.

While there are requirements to legally purchase and possess an allowed gun in New Jersey, legal weapons can be made illegal by altering them to be substantially identical to prohibited assault weapons. For example, semi-automatic rifles that are not military grade are banned if they have certain features, like a bayonet mount, an over 10-round fixed magazine capacity, or grenade launcher.

What happens if you are found in illegal possession of an assault weapon in NJ?

You will be arrested and charged with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f). Specifically, possessing assault weapons is a second degree crime punishable by five to ten years in prison and a maximum $150,000.00 fine unless the weapon is licensed per N.J.S.2C:58-5, registered under 2C:58-12, or rendered inoperable. A person who files an application in the superior court may obtain a two-year license to own an assault weapon after the prosecutor reviews the application and determines the person is qualified, and upon the applicant paying fees and registering the weapon as owned by a member of a verified gun club for legitimate target shooting purposes as per the Attorney General’s Office.

On top of a conviction for a section degree crime, which entails a presumption of incarceration, even with no prior criminal record, you have to worry about the mandatory parole ineligibility requirements of the Graves Act when you are facing charges for illegally possessing an assault weapon. The mandatory minimum imprisonment sentence for Graves Act Violations is 3 years or one-third to one-half of a given sentence, whichever is greater, or 18 months for a fourth degree crime, during which there is no chance of parole. So, second degree crimes come with a prison term of 5 to 10 years with no option for parole for 3 to 5 of those years. Unlawful assault weapons used for organized crime purposes also come with a 5-year parole ineligibility term for those convicted.

Fortunately, you may be able to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence for assault firearms charges. Of course, this generally requires help from an experienced weapons attorney who knows how to apply for a Graves Act Waiver, and can successfully handle the complex legal process in order to “de-mandatorize” the sentence. If you achieve success in getting this waiver granted, you might be able to obtain a 3-year mandatory prison sentence with a one year minimum of time served before parole.  This is obviously desirable when you are avoiding 2 years in state prison, but it is important to have your case thoroughly reviewed by a knowledgeable lawyer who can potentially find other ways to beat your charges altogether.

Our Experienced Weapons Defense Attorneys can Help Fight Your Assault Firearms Charges in NJ

If you have been charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f), you should seek dedicated legal counsel. Our firm is committed to providing the best defense for your assault firearms charge in New Jersey and we are available for free consultations anytime. We are happy to talk to you about the methods that we will use to fight your weapons case, and give you all of the information that you might need. Feel free to call us now at (201)-556-1570 for personalized answers to your questions.


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Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

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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