Defaced Firearm Offenses in New Jersey
Qualified Gun Lawyers Fighting Defaced Firearm Charges in Bergen County, New Jersey
New Jersey’s gun laws are among some of the strictest in the nation, but even in more “gun-friendly” states, defacing a firearm is a serious offense. Firearm serial numbers serve an important purpose and aid law enforcement in a variety of ways. Defacing a firearm by trying to remove its serial number is a way criminals may try to cover their tracks. Those who are convicted of defacing a firearm in New Jersey face serious jail time and fines.
It is important for New Jersey gun owners to be aware of the significance of serial numbers, what constitutes defacement, potential penalties of defacing a firearm, and possible defenses to the offense. If you have been charged with defacing a firearm or believe you could be charged with this offense anywhere in Closter, Bogota, Mahwah, Lyndhurst, Hackensack, Garfield, Fort Lee, Paramus, Lodi, or Westwood, it’s time to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Our gun lawyers defend clients facing defaced firearm charges throughout Bergen County. Contact us at (201)-330-4979 24/7 for a free consultation.
Significance of Firearm Serial Numbers in NJ
Firearm serial numbers are put onto a firearm permanently in a variety of ways, including etching, laser engraving, stamping, and electrochemical etching. The goal is to permanently mark the firearm with a serial number that is assigned to the gun during the manufacturing process. These serial numbers serve a variety of purposes for law enforcement. They enable law enforcement to track stolen firearms or those sold through illegal firearms trafficking. Serial numbers also aid law enforcement in criminal investigations where a firearm was used to commit a crime like assault, burglary, or murder because the police may be able to use the serial number to trace the weapon back to a potential perpetrator either directly or indirectly.
What Exactly Constitutes Defacing a Firearm in New Jersey?
Defacing a firearm involves any effort to alter or remove the weapon’s serial number, which is its unique identifier. Without this information, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to successfully connect a particular firearm back to an individual based on manufacturing and firearm sale information. As such, attempting to remove a firearm serial number is a tactic that is employed by criminals involved in gun trafficking, organized crime, and potentially any other crime involving a weapon.
What it Takes to Prove Possession of a Defaced Firearm in NJ
Under New Jersey law, it is a crime to deface a firearm and to possess a defaced firearm. You do not have to be the person who defaced the firearm in order to be convicted of possessing a defaced firearm. Pursuant to NJSA 2C:39-3, it is a fourth degree crime to knowingly possess a defaced firearm. In order to be convicted, the prosecution must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, including that: (1) you possessed a firearm; (2) the firearm was defaced; and (3) you knowingly possessed the defaced firearm.
Charged with Defaced Gun Possession in NJ, What am I Facing?
If convicted of possessing a defaced firearm in New Jersey, you may face up to 18 months in state prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $10,000.
Accused of Defacing a Firearm in NJ, What are the Penalties?
Possession of a defaced firearm is a serious crime and actually defacing the firearm yourself is an even greater offense. If you intentionally remove or alter a serial number on a firearm, you can be convicted of this offense. Defacing a firearm is a third degree crime in New Jersey, which carries potential penalties of up to 3 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000.
Potential Defenses for Defaced Firearms Offenses in New Jersey
In order to be convicted of any criminal offense, including possession of a defaced firearm or defacing a firearm, the prosecution has the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have any defenses or evidence that the jury finds to cast reasonable doubt on even one element of the offense, then you must be found not guilty.
One possible defense to a defaced firearm charge may be that the weapon is not, in fact, defaced. If you can prove that the firearm was inadvertently damaged or that what appears to be defacement was actually caused by something else, then this defense may cast reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s case.
To be convicted of possession of a defaced firearm, you must both have possession and have possession knowingly. If you did not actually have possession of the gun and it was someone else who had possession of it, or if you did not know that the gun was in your possession, these are possible defenses in your case.
Finally, if you are charged with defacing a firearm, but you did not, in fact, deface the firearm and someone else did, you can present this as a defense by showing any evidence you have to support these facts.
Talk to a Hackensack Defaced Firearm Attorney Today
If you are facing charges for possession of a defaced firearm or defacing a firearm in Carlstadt, Cresskill, Allendale, Haworth, Norwood, Palisades Interstate Park, Wyckoff, Teaneck, or another town in Bergen County, call (201)-330-4979 to speak with a talented New Jersey weapons crime attorney free of charge. Our team of guns and weapons charge defense lawyers has successfully represented numerous clients against firearms violations. It is critical that a lawyer who is specifically experienced in this field of law examine the facts of your case to determine what defenses may be available to you. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Contact our Hackensack, NJ office today for a complimentary consultation.