Criminal charges in New Jersey are often issued in conjunction, as opposed to isolation. Many crimes overlap, involving more than one violation of a statute in the NJ Criminal Code of Justice. For example, it is common for a person to be charged with aggravated assault and a weapons offense in connection with the same incident. This happens on a regular basis in Hudson County and throughout New Jersey.
For instance, a Bayonne man was arrested for the second time in two days after assaulting two victims recently. The first assault was committed against a woman last Sunday. The alleged perpetrator was arrested and released. He was then arrested for a second time on Monday after assaulting another man with a wooden stick. The man was ultimately charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Typically, when people think of weapons, they think of guns and knives, rather than wooden sticks. However, while guns and knives may be more commonly used weapons, they are not the only objects that may be legally considered weapons under NJ Law. What constitutes a weapon is important to understand, not only because it can lead to charges like unlawful possession of a weapon or possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, but also because it can be an aggravating factor when determining what crime an individual is charged with.
When an Everyday Object Becomes a Weapon
Handguns, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and all other types of firearms are specifically enumerated and defined as weapons under New Jersey law. While New Jersey law does not specifically enumerate “wooden sticks” as weapons, they fall under a catch-all provision that prohibits “any other weapon” in circumstances that are not appropriate for lawful uses.
When considering objects like a wooden stick, it is the way the object is being used that will determine whether it is a weapon. You can imagine many seemingly appropriate uses for a wooden stick, such has using it for some functional household purpose, while an example of a prohibited use is hitting someone with a wooden stick, like the Bayonne man described above is accused of doing. By using the object to assault another person, an inappropriate use of the object, it became a weapon that was capable of inflicting harm on the victim.
What Does Possessing for an Unlawful Purpose Mean?
Possessing a weapon is not a criminal offense in all instances. Many individuals lawfully possess firearms with the proper permits for purposes of self-defense, hunting, or even a personal collection. However, if you are in possession of a weapon with the intent to use that weapon to perpetrate a crime or fulfill some other unlawful purpose, you may be charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. You can be charged with this offense if you threaten to harm another person, even if you do not actually physically harm them.
Possessing for an unlawful purpose can vary in terms of grading based on the type of weapon involved. Specifically, when the weapon is a firearm or destructive device, it is a second degree crime. Any other weapon is typically a third degree crime. Even if the “weapon” you possess is an imitation firearm, like a toy, if you use it to threaten a person or for any other unlawful purpose, you may be charged with a fourth degree offense.
Why Does a Weapon Raise a Charge From Simple Assault to Aggravated Assault?
There are a few ways you can be found guilty of aggravated assault, a charge more serious than simple assault. One of the factors is if you purposely or knowingly cause or attempt to cause bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon. As explained above, even an object that is not commonly considered a weapon may be charged as such if it is used for an unlawful
purpose such as assaulting another person.
Facing Assault and Weapons Charges in Bayonne?
If you have been charged with aggravated assault and/or a weapons offense , it is very important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. The lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law have handled countless weapon possession and aggravated assault cases in Bayonne and throughout Hudson County and New Jersey. If you would like to speak with criminal defense attorney who can review your case and discuss possible defenses, call our office at (201) 793-8018 or fill out our online form. We provide consultations at no cost to you.