Possession of a Weapon Charge NJ 2C:39-4 – Weapons Possession for Unlawful Purposes Charges and Penalties NJ

“What are the penalties and punishments for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose 2C:39-4 and can I potentially beat a weapons possession charge in New Jersey?

possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose charges NJ

Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes NJ 2C:39-4

If you’ve been arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon, you could be facing some fairly vague legal statutes depending on the weapon that you’ve been charged with. Similarly, possession of weapons for unlawful purposes is a serious crime that violates section N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, subjecting those convicted to severe consequences. In the letter of the law, a weapon is  “anything readily capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury.” Technically, a large stick that you picked up off of the ground could be considered a weapon under the right circumstances. The weapon itself is important for several reasons. First, the article or object must meet the legal criteria for a weapon. And second, the type of weapon, whether it is a firearm, knife, assault rifle, or something as seemingly innocuous as a paper weight, determines the degree of the crime charged in a specific case.

What is Required for a Conviction for Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes?

In order for you to be convicted of a charge under 2C:39-4, there need to be a number of circumstances:

  1. A weapon has to exist: If nothing involved in your case can be technically considered a weapon, then your case can be dismissed.
  2. The weapon has to be in your possession: If you are standing next to a baseball bat on the ground, you might not be considered to be “in possession” of a weapon.  You must clearly possess the weapon.
  3. You have to be aware of the “nature” of the object, and how it might be used for destructive purposes.
  4. The circumstances must dictate that the item was not intended to be used for lawful purposes.

The final portion of the definition of a weapon is by far the most important.  In reality, just about anything can be considered to be a weapon. What really matters is what you intend to do with the item.

Consider the following examples. If you have a brick in your hand, you should be using it to build a house.  If you have a brick in your hand during a loud verbal argument, that item is going to be considered a weapon. If you have a baseball bat in your hand, walking down the street, it’s not a weapon if you’re on your way to the batting cage.  If you have a bat and you already threatened to hit someone with it, it’s going to be considered a weapon.

What are the Penalties for Possessing a Weapon for Unlawful Use in New Jersey?

When it comes to charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, the type of weapon possessed for unlawful purposes is critical for determining the associated penalties and punishments for the individual charged. Specifically, if the weapon possessed for unlawful use is a firearm, this is a second degree crime, exposing the defendant to a state prison term of 5 to 10 years and a maximum fine of $150,000. You may be wondering what a firearm actually is. So you know, this includes shotguns, handguns, rifles, machine guns, air guns, and similar mechanisms for firing projectiles sufficient to harm another person.

It is also a second degree crime if the weapon is a destructive device or explosive. Other weapons, aside from firearms, result in third degree criminal charges with the potential for 3 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine amounting to $15,000. As for imitation firearms, when these types of weapons lead to charges for possession with unlawful intentions, the crime is of the fourth degree. Fourth degree charges expose the accused to up to 18 months incarcerated and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

NJ Weapons Possession Defense Lawyers Fighting for You

We want to help you with whatever the degree of weapons possession charge you’re facing in New Jersey, however every charge is different. Let us review your possession of a weapon case, discuss the penalties you are facing, and explain the defenses that we may be able to use to get the charges reduced or dismissed. This is what we do and our attorneys fight to win every case, every time. For more information, please contact our office at (201) 556-1570. Consultations are free and available 24/7 to best serve you.

Want to Know How To Beat A Gun Charge?

Learn some of the effective strategies that our New Jersey weapons attorneys frequently use to be weapons charges against our clients.

How to beat a gun charge #1: Challenging the “consent” of a search.
How to beat a gun charge #2. Challenging motor vehicle stops and illegal searches.
How to beat a gun charge #3. Challenging Bad Warrants and Illegal Searches
How to beat a gun charge #4. Plea negotiations and reducing sentencing minimums.
How to beat a gun charge #5. Transporting a gun to the range.

Other Gun Related Pages

Below is a list of weapons charges and issues related to weapons offenses, which might specifically apply to your case.

NJ Gun Lawyer – Why you should consider hiring an attorney for your gun charge.

NJ Gun Laws – A comprehensive breakdown of gun laws in New Jersey.

Possession of a Destructive Device NJ – Laws on destructive devices in NJ.

NJ Gun Permit Attorney – If you need an attorney for gun permits.

New Jersey Gun Permits – Information about obtaining paperwork for NJ firearms.

Gun Charges NJ – What you’re facing after NJ gun charges and how to fight them.

Certain Persons Offenses – Info about “certain persons to not own firearms” offenses.

BB Gun Charges – BB Gun Laws in New Jersey.

First Offense Gun Charges – Information about what happens on a first offense gun charge.

Forfeiture of Weapons – Sometimes the police will take your guns after a domestic dispute.

Gun Case Victories #1 – One of the gun cases that we won in NJ.

Gun Charges In NJ – A video on gun charges in NJ.

Gun Permit Attorney – A video on hiring an attorney to help you obtain gun permits.


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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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