Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose Attorney in Union County

Elizabeth NJ Attorney for Possession of Weapon with Unlawful Purposes

New Jersey takes weapons offenses very seriously and consistently has some of the toughest gun and weapon laws throughout the country. A conviction for these offenses usually translates into mandatory incarceration in state prison. The possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose offense applies when a person arms himself with the actual purpose of using the weapon against another in a criminal manner. A weapon can be almost anything used to hurt someone else such as a gun, knife, club or bat. Founding attorney Will Proetta has represented defendants against thousands of crimes and charges over the years including possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes. At William Proetta Criminal Law we represent clients for guns and weapons charges throughout New Jersey including RahwayScotch PlainsLindenKenilworthUnion TownshipCranford, and Westfield. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your charges contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced weapons defense lawyer.

Potential Defenses for Weapon with Unlawful Purpose

Unlike other violent crime defenses such as murder or aggravated assault, the test for possessing a weapon for a lawful purpose is not whether the defendant was reasonable in his belief to possess the weapon for self defense but whether the belief was honestly held.

  • If the defendant’s honest purpose in possessing and continuing to possess a weapon is to use it for sport, precaution or in a manner intended to cause no harm to another.
  • Possession of the weapon for self-protection or the protection of others constitutes a defense to this offense.
  • Intoxication may be a defense to the element of purposeful action of this offense.

It should be noted that inoperability of the gun in and of itself dose not negate the unlawful purpose.

Possession is divided into two categories, actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is sometimes referred to as manual possession. This means that the defendant has direct physical control over the object. In contrast constructive possession means possession in which the property, although not physically on the defendant, is so located that the defendant is aware of the presence of the property and able to exercise control over it and has a purpose to exercise control over it. In some cases, it will be impossible to define with precision the exact crime or crimes the defendant intended to commit with a firearm. However, the State is not obligated to prove the exact details of the intended crime such as when it would occur or the identity of the person or property targeted.

Penalties for Possession of Weapon for Unlawful Purposes

Second Degree – 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 – 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 – 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.

Elizabeth NJ Gun Lawyer

Weapon crimes are very serious and require the skills of an experienced criminal defense lawyer because they are inherently complicated. The issue of merger and less included offenses is complex when applied to this type of weapons offense. For instance, the offense of Possession of a Weapon without a Permit does not merge into the offense of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Moreover, merger is not required where the defendant uses the firearm to commit a Robbery or Burglary and then uses the firearm to prevent witnesses from informing the police or uses the firearm to force persons to provide shelter. An experienced gun attorney can help you navigate the tricky court system and challenge the state’s case against you in an effort to have your charges downgraded or dismissed altogether. Contact our office at (908) 838-0150 to learn more about potential representation for your weapons charges during a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.