N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 Unlawful Possession of a Weapon New Jersey

2C:39-5. Unlawful Possession of Weapons.

The following is the 2C statute that penalizes this offense. I have successfully handled many gun cases. Gun charges are possibly the toughest cases to defend due to the Graves Act which mandates prison if convicted, typically for a mandatory period of 42 months. There are waivers available, but they are not easy to get, and you need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate the mine field. Additionally, suppression hearings are frequently the defendant’s only recourse. This means your lawyer will be challenging the search that lead to the discovery of the weapon. There are many available defenses in the statute, but you have to know the statute well and know how to articulate those exceptions, because many prosecutors and lawyers are unaware of them in my experience.

For an explanation of the law and the penalties please see my unlawful possession of a weapon/gun article. Also, for the sentencing provisions that impose mandatory imprisonment upon conviction for this gun offense, please see NJSA 2C:43-6. If you have been charged with another weapons related offense other than guns, please search for your offense in the search area indicated to the right.

2C:39-5. Unlawful possession of weapons

a. Machine guns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession a machine gun or any instrument or device adaptable for use as a machine gun, without being licensed to do so as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-5, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

b. Handguns. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including any antique handgun, without first having obtained a permit to carry the same as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4, is guilty of a crime of the third degree if the handgun is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person. Otherwise it is a crime of the second degree.

c. Rifles and shotguns. (1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any rifle or shotgun without having first obtained a firearms purchaser identification card in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(2) Unless otherwise permitted by law, any person who knowingly has in his possession any loaded rifle or shotgun is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

d. Other weapons. Any person who knowingly has in his possession any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

e. Firearms or other weapons in educational institutions.

(1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, is guilty of a crime of the third degree, irrespective of whether he possesses a valid permit to carry the firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card.

(2) Any person who knowingly possesses any weapon enumerated in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection r. of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1 or any components which can readily be assembled into a firearm or other weapon enumerated in subsection r. of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1 or any other weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful use as it may have, while in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

(3) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any imitation firearm in or upon any part of the buildings or grounds of any school, college, university or other educational institution, without the written authorization of the governing officer of the institution, or while on any school bus is a disorderly person, irrespective of whether he possesses a valid permit to carry a firearm or a valid firearms purchaser identification card.

f. Assault firearms. Any person who knowingly has in his possession an assault firearm is guilty of a crime of the second degree except if the assault firearm is licensed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-5; registered pursuant to section 11 of P.L.1990, c.32; or rendered inoperable pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1990, c.32.

g. (1) The temporary possession of a handgun, rifle or shotgun by a person receiving, possessing, carrying or using the handgun, rifle, or shotgun under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.74 shall not be considered unlawful possession under the provisions of subsection b. or c. of this section.

(2) The temporary possession of a firearm by a person receiving, possessing, carrying or using the firearm under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.375 shall not be considered unlawful possession under the provisions of this section.

h. A person who is convicted of a crime under subsection a., b. or f. of this section shall be ineligible for participation in any program of intensive supervision; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to a crime under subsection b. involving only a handgun which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.

i. A person convicted of violating subsection a., b. or f. of this section shall be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment, which shall include the imposition of a minimum term during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole, if the court finds that the aggravating circumstance set forth in paragraph (5) of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 applies. The minimum term of parole ineligibility shall be fixed at five years. The sentencing court shall make a finding on the record as to whether the aggravating circumstance set forth in paragraph (5) of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 applies, and the court shall presume that there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant is involved in organized criminal activity if there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant is a member of an organization or group that engages in criminal activity. The prosecution at the sentencing hearing shall have the initial burden of producing evidence or information concerning the defendant’s membership in such an organization or group.

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2 responses to “N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 Unlawful Possession of a Weapon New Jersey

  1. If I was convicted on a charge of Unlawful possession of a Weapon, prior to my release, does a letter need to go the Prosecutor’s office? There’s no victim involved.

    • Law Office of Todd Palumbo

      Not that I am aware of. However as a convicted felon, you are prohibited from possessing certain weapons

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