New Jersey Juvenile Juvenile Weapon Charge Lawyer
Possession of a weapon by a minor is a serious offense that carries penalties that can easily include a period of incarceration. It is extremely important to hire the right defense lawyers as quickly as possible for your child given the gravity of this type of juvenile charge. Retaining an attorney with experience handling juvenile cases is pivotal since the court system and treatment of those under eighteen is quite different from that of adult offenders. When an individual is a minor and commits any weapon offense they are considered to be juvenile delinquent. Their case is handled in the family courts under the auspices of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission as opposed to the criminal court.
The lawyers at our firm, The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, are highly familiar with this system having defended hundreds, if not thousands, of children in the juvenile part of Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Union County and elsewhere over the last twenty plus years. Several attorneys on our team have also served as prosecutors prior to entering the defense bar. Our staff has the skill necessary to protect your child without the criminal justice process. Contact us anytime 24/7 to speak to a lawyer in a free initial consultation. The sooner we begin working on your child’s case and formulating a defense strategy, the better his or her chance are of reaching a favorable outcome. Call us now at 877-450-8301.
Overview of Juvenile Weapons Offenses in New Jersey
While the process and penalties that apply to juvenile weapons offenses are different than those that apply to adults, the criminal violations that may apply are largely the same. In this regard, there are many items that can be considered a weapon and result in a minor being charged with an offense. Aside from obvious items like a firearm or knife, items like slingshots, brass knuckles, and even handcuffs are illegal for minors to possess. These are what are commonly referred to prohibited weapons under New Jersey Law. If a child is convicted of possession of a prohibited weapon, the juveniles penalties for a third degree crime, fourth degree crime or even disorderly persons offense (e.g. only in the case of possession of handcuffs). Possession of the following items is a fourth degree crime:
- A defaced firearm;
- A silencer;
- Any of the following types of knife: dagger, switchblade, stiletto, dirk, and ballistic;
- A sling shot;
- Metal knuckles;
- Dum-dum or armor piercing ammunition;
- A stun gun;
- A large capacity ammunition magazine; and
- Any type of club, such as a billy club, a blackjack, a sandclub, a cestus, or any other type of weapon made of a studded leather band or metal filings embedded in a wooden club.
Possession of either of the following types of weapons is a third degree crime:
- A sawed-off shotgun; or
- Any type of destructive device, which can include a bomb, a device designed to fire projectile objects, or poison gas.
As discussed above, there are different terms in use to describe juvenile offenders and aspects of their justice than the terms used with adult cases. When a juvenile is found guilty of an offense, he or she is adjudged as a juvenile delinquent. When an adult is found guilty, he or she is convicted of a crime. Juvenile delinquents face dispositions, which are combined punitive and rehabilitative efforts to discourage future criminal activity in the individual and get him or her any necessary help. Overall, the juvenile justice process has a stronger focus on rehabilitation than the adult justice process. Many dispositions that a juvenile delinquent can face are geared toward education and rehabilitation, such as the required completion of a drug education program or required counseling sessions.
Years after completing their dispositions, many former juvenile offenders seek expungement of their criminal records. An expungement is a “sealing” of an individual’s criminal record that removes a charge or adjudication from the record so it does not appear in most background checks. This can help the individual immensely when he or she seeks employment, housing, or even further educational opportunities. This process can be completed once the individual completes all the terms of his or her sentence, as long as he or she meets certain other requirements such as the requirement that he or she not have any pending charges at the time he or she seeks the expungement.
In New Jersey, it is possible, but rare, for a juvenile offender to be charged as an adult. This may be done only if the offender is over the age of 14 and only if the prosecutor of his or her case can prove to the court that charging the individual as an adult would be more successful at discouraging future criminal behavior from him or her than keeping the case in the juvenile system. When this is done, it is done with juveniles who already have substantial criminal records and whose adult charges can serve as examples to discourage criminal activity in their peers.
Juvenile Firearm Possession Charge
The most serious variety of weapon offense an adult or juvenile can face are those involving a handgun, shotgun or other form of firearm. And unlike an adult where there are scenarios where a firearm may be legally possessed, the same does not hold true for a child because minors cannot possess, carry, fire, or otherwise use a firearm without the direct supervision of a parent, legal guardian, or other individual who holds the permit for the specific gun.
Various factors can determine the degree of charge that a juvenile faces for illegally possessing a weapon. These include whether he or she possessed the weapon while on school grounds or whether he or she is deemed to have possessed the weapon for unlawful purposes. One example of this is the use of a “community gun,” which is a firearm shared by multiple parties for the purpose of committing other criminal acts. This and certain other offenses have minimum incarceration requirements for individuals who are adjudged delinquent.
Dispositions a minor can face for weapons possession can include incarceration at a detention center or boot camp, probation, community service, or another form of supervision.
Juvenile Possession of BB, Pellet and Paintball Guns
BB, pellet and paintball guns might not seem like a big deal, but if your son or daughter is accused of using one in the wrong context, he or she can face legal action and penalties for a criminal offense. Semi-automatic air rifles and BB guns are considered to be firearms in New Jersey and as such, they are subject to the same laws that regulate all firearms. If a minor is found in unlawful possession of one of these types of gun, he or she faces a serious charge that can result in extreme penalties, even incarceration, depending on the circumstances. Minors who possess these weapons for unlawful purposes or bring them onto school property are at greatest risk of these consequences.
In terms of specific treatment under New Jersey Law, there is no debating the fact that BB guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns are considered considered firearms. They cannot be possessed without a carry permit. The only difference between, for example, a pellet pistol and a real one lies in the penalties that apply upon conviction for possessing the weapon. It is a fourth degree crime for anyone under 21 years of age to possess a BB, pellet or airsoft gun. If you child allegedly possessed a bb/pellet/airsoft gun and you would like to learn more on this subject click here.
Although paintball guns are not considered to be firearms, they are considered to be weapons and because of this, a minor found in unlawful possession of a paintball gun can face a criminal charge. Knowingly using a paintball gun for an inappropriate or unlawful use, such as bringing a paintball gun onto school property, is a fourth degree crime. This may be upgraded to a third degree crime if the individual is found to have planned to use the paintball gun unlawfully against another individual or another individual’s property. For a paintball gun-related adjudication, a minor can face up to two years of incarceration.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer
If your son or daughter has been charged with any type of weapons offense, you need to start working with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to develop an effective legal strategy for him or her as soon as possible. Contact our team of experienced New Jersey juvenile defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our team. We can go over every detail of your child’s charge with you and with your child and discuss the penalties he or she is facing as well as the best way to defend him or her against the charge. Do not simply work with any criminal defense lawyer – the criminal justice process for juvenile offenders is quite different from the criminal justice process for adults. Be an advocate for your child and start working with a criminal defense lawyer who has specific experience working with juveniles as soon as you can.