Hudson County Weapons Offenses Attorney
Are you facing gun-related charges in Hudson County, New Jersey? The Garden State has incredibly restrictive gun laws that impose harsh penalties on offenders. Even if your situation was just a misunderstanding or a mistake, you could face consequences such as hefty fines, loss of gun ownership privileges, or even time in prison.
When your future is at stake, you need dependable representation from a defense attorney you can trust. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our Hudson County gun defense lawyers are deeply familiar with the local criminal justice system, and we know how to protect the rights of our clients. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to get started with your free, confidential initial consultation.
What You Need to Know About Weapons Laws in New Jersey
The state of New Jersey takes gun safety extremely seriously. New Jersey gun laws impose restrictions on:
- Age – You must be 18 or older to purchase, possess, or use any firearm in New Jersey. Additionally, you must be 21 or older to purchase, possess, or use a handgun unless you have authorization from your employer to do so.
- Purchases – You must obtain a firearm purchaser ID card before you can buy a rifle, shotgun, or any firearm ammunition in New Jersey. If you want to purchase a handgun, you need a special permit from your local police chief or state police superintendent. To obtain either permit, you are required to answer application questions, provide references, and complete background checks. Additionally, you are prohibited from purchasing any gun if you have ever been convicted of certain crimes, included on a terror watchlist, or institutionalized due to a mental disorder.
- Handguns – Unless you are a current or former law enforcement official, you must obtain a special permit to carry a handgun in New Jersey. This permit must be approved by a judge. To obtain the judge’s approval, you must prove you have a “justifiable need” to carry a handgun because of specific threats or dangers to your life.
- Assault weapons – You are prohibited from possessing any firearm classified as an assault weapon in New Jersey. State laws identify specific types of firearms as examples of prohibited guns and prohibit the possession of any firearms that are “substantially identical” to the assault weapons specified in the law.
- Magazine capacities – All New Jersey residents are prohibited from using magazines for semiautomatic guns that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
- Bump stocks – All New Jersey residents are also prohibited from possessing “bump stocks,” which are gun accessories that enable you to fire more rapidly.
- Transportation – You are prohibited from transporting firearms by vehicle in New Jersey unless you take strict precautions. You must ensure all firearms are unloaded and secured in locked cases, which must be stored in areas that are inaccessible to both the driver and all vehicle occupants during transit.
- “Ghost” guns– You are prohibited from producing or possessing any “ghost” gun in New Jersey. A ghost gun is a homemade firearm created using untraceable components, such as 3-D printed parts.
Our Gun Defense Attorneys Can Help with All Types of Weapons Charges
At William Proetta Criminal Law, our skilled Hudson County gun defense attorneys have protected our client’s rights in the face of all manner of charges. We can help you if you are facing any of the following types of New Jersey weapons charges:
- Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose – This offense occurs when someone uses a firearm to threaten another individual or for any other illegal purpose, whether or not they are otherwise permitted to possess the firearm.
- Unlawful possession of a weapon – This offense occurs when someone who is underage, has a criminal record, has been institutionalized, or is otherwise unauthorized illegally purchases or possesses a firearm in New Jersey.
- Possessing a weapon without a permit – This offense occurs when someone purchases or possesses a firearm without a permit in New Jersey, even if they legally bought the firearm in a different state.
- Possessing a weapon during the commission of a crime – This offense occurs when someone has possession of a firearm while committing any crime, even if the firearm was legally obtained.
- Assault with a deadly weapon – This offense occurs when someone injures or threatens to injure another individual with a firearm or another deadly weapon.
- Brandishing a weapon – This offense occurs when someone points a firearm at another individual with no regard for their safety, even if they never actually fire.
- Firearms and weapons trafficking – This offense occurs when someone sells firearms or other weapons in New Jersey without first obtaining a Retail Firearms Dealer’s License.
How Our Hudson County Gun Defense Attorneys Can Help with Your Case
Our Hudson County gun defense attorneys understand how daunting the criminal justice system can be. We’re here to help you take advantage of all possible defenses at your disposal and protect your legal rights by:
- Addressing each of your concerns and assessing the specifics of your case in a free, confidential consultation
- Explaining the charges you face and the criminal justice process in detail so you are prepared every step of the way
- Conducting an independent investigation into the charges against you to identify questionable evidence or procedural inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case
- Filing motions asking the court to suppress illegally obtained evidence
- Preparing a strong defense and presenting your case effectively, including fighting for the charges against you to be reduced or dismissed entirely
Understanding the Common Defenses to Gun Charges in Hudson County
When our clients are up against firearm charges in New Jersey, our experienced criminal defense attorneys know how to fight back. Some of the most common defenses we use in gun crime cases include:
- No possession – In many cases, the simplest and most effective defense is to demonstrate that you were never actually in possession of the gun in question.
- Legal possession – If you are facing unlawful possession charges, we may be able to demonstrate that you were in fact legally allowed to purchase or possess the firearm in question.
- Self-defense– If you are facing charges for brandishing a gun or assault with a deadly weapon, we may be able to argue that you were only pointing or using the firearm to defend yourself or someone else.
- Procedural issues – If law enforcement officials failed to advise you of your rights before questioning you or obtained any evidence through illegal search or seizure, we can file a motion to have certain evidence suppressed.
Possible Penalties for a Weapons Conviction
In New Jersey, firearm offenses are governed by a statute called the Graves Act, one of the most severe gun laws in the country. This requires firearm violators to serve a prison term for a minimum length of time before becoming eligible for parole, in most cases, even if they have no prior criminal record.
When determining which types of penalties to seek for gun-related offenses, prosecutors will consider multiple factors. Firearm-related offenses in New Jersey are considered indictable crimes, which are more commonly known as felonies in other states. Less serious crimes are called disorderly persons offenses, similar to misdemeanors in other states.
Here are the possible penalties associated with varying degrees of offenses in New Jersey:
- First-degree indictable crimes – Up to $200,000 in fines and 10 to 20 years of prison time
- Second-degree indictable crimes – Up to $150,000 in fines and five to 10 years of prison time
- Third-degree indictable crimes – Up to $15,000 in fines and three to five years of prison time
- Fourth-degree indictable crimes – Up to $10,000 in fines and up to 18 months of prison time
- Disorderly persons offenses – Up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months of jail time
- Petty disorderly persons offenses – Up to $500 in fines and up to 30 days of jail time
Weapons Charges FAQs
Below are straightforward answers to some of the most frequently asked questions our attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law receive about Hudson County weapons charges:
It is illegal to possess any assault weapon, machine gun, or sawed-off shotgun in New Jersey. You are also prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun without a special permit unless you are a current or former law enforcement official. Certain firearm accessories like silencers and high-capacity magazines are also illegal in New Jersey.
Individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase or possess guns in New Jersey, and those under the age of 21 are not allowed to purchase or possess handguns without special permits or employer authorization. Additionally, any individual who has been convicted of certain crimes, included on a terror watchlist, or committed for a mental disorder is prohibited from purchasing or possessing guns.
While the simple answer is “yes,” the way to do it is far from simple. While winning your case at trial is always a way to avoid prison time for a gun case, that may not always be a viable option. So, for purposes of this explanation, we are going to focus on ways to secure a probationary sentence or PTI through plea negotiations.
The first step is securing what is known as a “Graves waiver,” which is a process that allows the defense attorney to petition the county prosecutor to exercise their authority based on extraordinary circumstances and relax the mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office published two separate memorandums outlining procedures and factors the prosecutor should consider in different circumstances when granting a Graves waiver and the recommended sentence that should follow. These memos were issued in an attempt to have uniform results throughout the state and try to stop the drastic differences in sentencing in each county.
For instance, prior to the memorandums, you may have gotten a probationary sentence in Hudson County but would have received state prison in a different county. Each county may still do things their own way, and results can differ depending on which prosecutor office you’re dealing with, but the memorandums can definitely be used as a helpful outline.
If the prosecutor’s office will not agree to give you a Graves waiver or will not agree to depart completely from a state prison sentence, you can still appeal to the Presiding Judge in the County to exercise “the escape valve” exception cited in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) at the time of sentencing. This allows the sentencing judge to overrule the prosecutor and sentence you outside the mandatory state prison range.
Get Advice from a Knowledgeable Hudson County Weapons Charges Attorney Now
The Hudson County weapons charge attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law will fight to protect your legal rights through every stage of your case. We’re here to listen to your story and help you build the best defense possible. To begin, contact us for your free and confidential case evaluation.