Possession of Weapon for Unlawful Purposes Attorney in Hudson County

New Jersey has strict gun and weapons laws that make possessing a weapon with an unlawful purpose punishable by mandatory incarceration in state prison. You will be charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose if you have a weapon in your possession with the intention to use it against another person or property in a criminal manner. The defendant’s intent can be assumed based on the surrounding circumstances including the manner in which the weapon is found. For instance, if you are pulled over and a search of your vehicle results in police finding a loaded handgun not in a case underneath your driver’s seat, these facts will lead to a charge for possessing a weapon with unlawful purposes. The particulars of the offense of possessing weapons for unlawful purposes are laid out in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4 of the state’s criminal code.

Moreover, if you do not have a permit for the pistol, you will be charged additionally with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is distinguishable from the separate and distinct charge of unlawful possession of a weapon which normally has to deal with possession of an illegal weapon or possession of a weapon without the proper permits or license. Therefore it is very possible to the charged and convicted of both of these charges. As mentioned above, a conviction for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose will normally translate into mandatory incarceration. It goes without saying that weapon and firearm crimes are serious and you need a serious lawyer to combat these allegations. As such, the law firm’s founding attorney Will Proetta has represented defendants against thousands of criminal charges throughout New Jersey including possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes. At William Proetta Criminal Law we represent clients for guns and weapons charges throughout Essex and Hudson Counties including Jersey CityNewarkBayonneEast OrangeUnion CityBloomfield, and Irvington. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one then contact us at (201) 793-8018 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal lawyer or to schedule an appointment at any one of our offices.


Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is classified as a felony-level offense in New Jersey. This means that anyone who is convicted of the offense, or who pleads guilty, is subject to a prison sentence. The possible length of that sentence is determined by the facts of the case and the degree of the charges. The degree of a charge and the associated penalties for possessing weapons for unlawful purposes are determined by the type of weapon involved:

  • Second Degree Crime – The possession of either a firearm, explosive or destructive device with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the property or person of another is a crime of the second degree.
  • Third Degree Crime – Possession of a weapon other than a firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person or property of another is a crime of the third degree.
  • Fourth Degree Crime – It is a fourth degree crime to possess an imitation firearm under circumstances which would lead an observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose.
The Graves Act imposes mandatory parole ineligibility for defendants convicted of   possession of a firearm with the intent to use it either against the person   or the property of another.


A criminal charge for possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose is bad enough, but what can make matters even worse for the defendant is that this charge is often accompanied by related charges for other criminal offenses. Of course, the additional charges that you could face in your possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose case will depend on the circumstances that led to your arrest. Weapons crimes often involve additional charges such as Burglary or Robbery which do not automatically merge with possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and it is very easy to have consecutive sentences for each charge if your case is not handled properly.  For example, if you used a handgun or other weapon during the commission of a robbery, it is likely that you will face a felony charge for robbery in addition to the weapons offense charge. Similarly, if you used a weapon while threatening violence against another person, it is possible that you will face enhanced charges for aggravated assault or terroristic threats in addition to the weapons offense charge. Ultimately, the specific acts that went along with the original offense could have significant implications for your criminal case.


It is worth noting that New Jersey considers a BB gun a “firearm” so it is actually fairly common to see charges of possession of BB gun for lawful purposes since pellet handguns are easier to purchase and most residents do not realize the seriousness. Moreover, while other violent crimes such as murder or Aggravated Assault use the reasonable person standard for self defense, the test for possessing a weapon for a lawful purpose is whether the belief was honestly held. Weapon crimes are very serious and complicated and therefore the defense of them requires the seasoned negotiation and litigation skills of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At William Proetta Criminal Law our attorneys are experienced in handling weapons and firearms crimes and we will navigate the complicated court system and help you avoid the pitfalls defendants commonly find themselves in. We offer free consultations for prospective clients so do hesitate to contact us today at (201) 793-8018 to speak with an experienced weapon defense lawyer about the details of your case.