Weapon Possession Charges in New Jersey

New Jersey’s weapons and firearms laws encompass nearly every weapon imaginable as well as the ownership, use, sale, and possession of such a weapon. Weapons charges have a tendency to be complicated and involved. That is why it is so crucial for you to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows what to do to help you win your case.

What is Unlawful Possession?

Under NJ law, if you “knowingly have in your possession a weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use,” then you will be guilty of Unlawful Possession [N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5]. This section of the law also applies to individuals who are caught with weapons at Newark Airport.

Put simply, in order to violate N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5 the following criteria must be met:

  1. a weapon must have existed
  2. you must have possessed that weapon
  3. you must have had knowledge of the nature and character of the instrument (i.e. what it was and how it could be used)
  4. the circumstances dictated that the object was not manifestly appropriate for lawful use

What are Circumstances Not Manifestly Appropriate for Lawful Use?

Circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use involve a threat of harm to a person or threat of damage to property.

Possessing a paintball gun for the purpose of shooting it at an automobile would be an example of this. A paintball gun can clearly be possessed for an appropriate use, but when it is used inappropriately it falls into the category of “circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use.” As a general rule, if the surrounding circumstances dictated that the use was inappropriate, this criterion will be met.

What is a Weapon?

A weapon is legally defined as anything readily capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury. Believe it or not a great many things could fall into this category, including your fists.

The following is just a short list of items that are considered weapons in New Jersey:

  • Billies
  • Blackjacks
  • Bludgeons
  • Brass or Metal Knuckles
  • Cestis (and other leather bands studded with metal filings or razor blades embedded in wood)
  • Daggers
  • Dirks
  • Firearms
  • Gravity Knives
  • Sandclubs
  • Slingshots
  • Stilettos
  • Stun Guns
  • Switchblade Knives


Remember, self-defense is a valid defense against a weapons possession charge. However, it will only apply in a case where the weapon was used spontaneously in order to respond to a genuinely compelling danger and it cannot be asserted when you are carrying the weapon as a precaution.

Who Should You Contact?

If you or a loved one was charged with a weapons offense inNew Jersey, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail, and do what he can to have your weapons charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.