New Jersey takes the safety and well-being of children and minors very seriously. As such, it is a very serious crime to engage in any sort of act that endangers the health of a child, including any engagement with child pornography. This includes the possession of child pornography, its production, distribution, or making a child participate in a sexual act for the purposes of filming. As one can imagine, child pornography charges can have a lifelong adverse effect on a person’s life, as they may end up on the Megan’s Law sex offender registry, which, in addition to jail time and steep fines, can affect the person’s job prospects and reputation long into the future.

If you’ve been charged with a crime involving child pornography, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. Contact an experienced lawyer at 973-524-7238 to learn how we can assist you in protecting your rights and defending you to the utmost extent in this very serious case.

Who Conducts Investigations Into Child Pornography Cases in NJ?

Child pornography crimes are more and more often happening on the digital platforms available today. For that reason, New Jersey State Police set up the Digital Technology Investigations Unit, which investigates various digital crimes that “utilize computers and computer technology for the purpose of exploiting children” and includes the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Once a crime is investigated, the case is tried by the criminal court system of New Jersey, as child pornography crimes are considered felonies.

Child pornography law in New Jersey is covered under New Jersey Revised Statutes 2C:24-4, which makes it a crime to endanger the welfare of children. Subjecting a child to illicit sexual acts, either actively through their creation and production or passively through their possession.

Child Pornography Possession Under NJSA 2C:24-4

According to NJSA 2C:24-4, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony. A person who is found in possession of child pornography may face three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Law on Child Pornography Distribution and Possible Penalties

NJSA 2C:24-4 states that if a person is found in possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute or having distributed the material, they will be charged with a second-degree crime. A second-degree child pornography distribution charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines.

Severity of Filming Child Pornography and Associated Ramifications

Filming or producing child pornography is a very serious crime resulting in a second-degree charge. The penalty associated with a second-degree child pornography production charge is between five and ten years in prison and $150,000 in fines.

Charges and Penalties for Creating or Allowing the Creation of Child Pornography

The most serious child pornography charge for private offenders is the creation of child pornography, which means the direct exploitation of a minor under the age of 18 in sexual acts or appearances thereof for the purposes of producing child pornography. This is considered a second-degree crime, though it is elevated to a first-degree felony with a prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines when a parent or legal guardian of the minor is responsible for the creation of child pornography.

Is Sex Offender Registration Compulsory in Cases Involving Child Pornography?

All people convicted of sexually-related crimes, including the possession, distribution, and production of child pornography, are subject to Megan’s Law, requiring that they register as a sex offender.

The Seriousness of the Charges Requires a Solid Defense

While the charges of child pornography appear so serious that it seems a person charged with such a crime could not escape the consequences, there are common defenses. Some common defenses include proof of illegal search and seizure, non-ownership of pornography found in possession or ignorance of possession, a defendant turning themselves in upon discovering possession of material involving minors or destroying it, or entrapment by officials.

Get Experienced Advice if You are Facing Child Pornography Charges in New Jersey

As is clear, any charge involving child pornography in New Jersey is a very serious issue because of the state’s commitment to protecting the welfare of children. An experienced criminal defense attorney will go to great lengths to thoroughly investigate your charge to ensure that all charges against you are just and that the investigation was conducted legally. A child pornography charge is not something to take lightly, and a qualified legal team can help you have your charge reduced or even dismissed.

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of clients in Parsippany, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Madison, Florham Park, Morristown, East Hanover, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey when it comes to child pornography charges. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 for a confidential and free consultation.

Criminal Convictions Have Lasting Impacts on Your Life

A criminal conviction on your record has a long-lasting effect on a person’s life. The immediate consequences are clear. People may have to obtain counsel to help them navigate criminal proceedings. They may have to prepare for trial or plead. This may result in a conviction, jail time, and fines. Once that criminal process is over, the sentence is served, and fines paid, the conviction still affects a person’s life. Below we discuss some ramifications of a conviction in New Jersey.

Employment

One of the most common areas where a conviction lingers is in employability. Even when a person has a job, if they are convicted of a crime, they risk losing it. If a person isn’t employed and is looking for employment, they must also disclose the conviction. Since most places of employment require background checks, the conviction will come up. In certain circumstances, the conviction can prevent a person from getting a job. While the prospective or current employee has legal rights regarding how the conviction is used in an employment decision, it is an extra hurdle that a convicted person must navigate. Depending on the conviction, the person can also be excluded from certain professions. For example, licensed or certified professionals risk disciplinary actions and even the loss of their license for certain convictions.

Immigration 

Another area where a conviction can have an immediate effect is in the area of immigration enforcement. Even after a person serves their sentence and pays fines, they may have to answer immigration charges. That’s because certain convictions render a person inadmissible in the United States and potentially deportable. This can be more stressful than the criminal process because the consequences include deportation. Immigration consequences following a criminal conviction affect non-citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Retirement and Pension Benefits

New Jersey law explicitly precludes public employees from receiving their pensions when convicted of certain crimes. New Jersey state and local employees, including teachers, are at risk of having a conviction sever their privilege to collect their state pensions.

Convictions and Family Matters

If a person is convicted and sentenced to at least 18 months in jail, their spouse can proceed with a divorce based on an “at-fault” ground. A conviction doesn’t just affect a person’s marital status but also their parenting time. A conviction has the potential to alter a parent’s parenting time, resulting in supervised visitation or loss of parenting time altogether.

Right to Vote

While every American has the right to vote, each state can impose limitations on those voting rights. In New Jersey, individuals who are incarcerated cannot vote during elections. When a person is released from prison for a felony conviction, they may not be able to participate in elections until all the provisions of their sentence are completed. This includes jail time, counseling or other court-ordered programs, and even parole.

How can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist Prior to a Conviction?

The best time to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney is when you are charged with a crime. Having an experienced lawyer can help you understand the implications of a conviction. While the prosecutor may offer an attractive plea deal that carries no jail time, the particular offense you plead guilty to can significantly affect your life for more than a few days in jail. It’s essential to approach any conviction with the question – what will be the collateral consequences? An attorney can guide you through that process and work tirelessly to get your charges dismissed or reduced to the lowest possible level with the least impact on the rest of your life.

Alternatives for Expungement Following a Conviction

New Jersey offers expungements for certain arrests and convictions. When a record is expunged, it seals the arrest and related documents from the public eye. That means that if an employer requires a background check, an expunged record will not appear. Nor will you be required to disclose such an arrest. It’s as if the arrest and conviction never happened.

Not every conviction in New Jersey will qualify for expungement. In fact, NJ has listed specific convictions that will not be eligible, such as arson, perjury, and murder, to name a few. Expungement is not automatically done. You must file a petition with the court, submit specific documentation, and ensure that every step in the process is completed correctly. Enlisting the help of a qualified attorney can help with the entirety of the process to ensure that your expungement successfully goes through.

A knowledgeable expungement lawyer can ensure that everything in your petition is correctly completed to seamlessly remove certain convictions from your record and help you move on with your life. However, a person must wait to have a record expunged in many cases. The wait time will vary according to the committed crime or crimes and how the case was resolved in court. For instance, an arrest and charge resolved through the Pre-Trial Intervention Program entails a shorter wait time than a felony conviction resulting a prison sentence.

Contacting a Lawyer is Crucial for Defense or Expungement in New Jersey

An experienced criminal attorney in New Jersey can help you navigate past the consequences of a criminal conviction to help you get back to the life you had. With very specific requirements and procedures, handling an expungement or defense against criminal charges is the last thing you want to DIY. Contact our tested and trusted criminal defense lawyers today for immediate assistance and a complimentary consultation. We serve clients in Rockaway, Florham Park, Parsippany, Morristown, Roxbury, Mount Olive, Dover, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey. Please call 973-524-7238 or send us a message to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Many people have been pulled over by the police, usually for mundane reasons such as a broken taillight or speeding.  A valid traffic stop is one where the police have observed an infraction related to your vehicle.  Examples include broken headlights or tail lights, no license plate or expired plates, dark window tint, shattered windows, or visibly defective tires. They can also stop you when they have probable cause.  Examples include speeding, not using headlights, swerving, reckless driving, or other driving-related infractions.

The Supreme Court Standard For a Proper Vehicle Stop in NJ

In 1996, in the case of Whren v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a traffic stop is acceptable as long as the officer involved can justify it with a traffic infraction committed by the driver. The officer’s actual motives for the visit are irrelevant. The Whren case began when Whren and a friend (Brown) were driving in what the police referred to as a “high crime area.”  Police, in an unmarked vehicle, observed Whren turn without signaling and heading rapidly down the road.  They pulled him over to see When holding a bag of crack cocaine.  Both men were arrested.  They moved to suppress the evidence because they felt the police used the traffic stop to stop them. After all, there was no indication that the men were involved in anything illegal or drug-related. The motion to suppress was denied, as was their appeal, and ultimately the Supreme Court decision affirmed nothing was wrong with the stop and subsequent arrest.

Regarding your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Supreme Court has often ruled in favor of the police, granting them a wide scope regarding traffic stops and vehicle searches.  The Court has said that if a vehicle is stopped and searched legally, any unlawful items or proof of illegal activities can be used as evidence.

A Previous Case in Delaware V. Prouse

An officer in a marked car made a traffic stop in Mr. Prouse’s car.  There was marijuana on the vehicle floor in plain sight of the officer.  Prouse was arrested on drug charges.  The police officer testified that there was no great reason why he made the stop.  Mr. Prouse hadn’t committed any traffic infractions, nor had the officer observed any suspicious activity on the part of Mr. Prouse.  His only purpose for making the stop was to check Mr. Prouse’s driver’s license and to make sure he had car insurance.  Mr. Prouse presented a motion to suppress the evidence found, and it was granted.  The court commented that they do not lose their right to privacy simply because someone chooses to drive a car.

Reasonable Suspicion for a Traffic Stop in New Jersey

Based on the case mentioned above, for the police to detain a driver or passengers, they must have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction has occurred. These range from a failure to yield, passing on the shoulder of the road, tailgating, or driving while texting.  The police do not have the authority to effect an arrest or conduct a search of the vehicle when the traffic violation is a minor one.

A Practical Example in State v. Pierce

Nicholas Grass was found speeding with two passengers in his car, Pierce, and Bernardo.  The police officer, Rette, made the traffic stop and verified that Grass was driving on a suspended license.  He then arrested Grass for driving while having a suspended license.  Pierce and Bernardo were ordered to exit the vehicle.  Officer Rette searched the car and found a metal container with a loaded gun.  He also found three jackets, and while checking the pockets’ contents, he came across a trace amount of cocaine wrapped in plastic wrap that belonged to Pierce.

At trial, Pierce submitted a motion to suppress, claiming the search was unrelated to the suspended license issue and therefore, was bogus. The Appellate Court ruled that Grass’ arrest for driving with a suspended license was legal and consequently opened the door to a search of the car and its contents.

Anonymous Calls Used to Justify Traffic Stops

Because anonymous calls to the authorities are sometimes based on the caller’s perception of what is happening rather than what is happening, there must be corroboration by the rules that a stop needs to be enacted.  For example, if a tip comes in that there is a reckless driver in a 1989 blue Mustang speeding through a convenience store parking lot, but when the police arrive, they find the Mustang. Still, there is no evidence that the driver has been reckless; they cannot investigate further.  If the tip comes from a 911 call regarding an intoxicated driver, there is an exception, and the police will seek out the car and make a stop.

Understanding the Community Caretaking Exception

Police may effectuate a traffic stop without observing a traffic infraction if there is a belief that help is needed.  An example is a couple screaming, arguing, and violently motioning with their hands while the car is in motion.  The driver isn’t speeding or driving erratically, but the situation is less than ideal and could become a hazard to the couple or the cars around them.

Examples of Reasons For a Motor Vehicle Stop in NJ

Motor vehicle violations include DWI, speeding, speeding in a school area, talking on the phone while driving, texting while driving, failing to yield to a stop sign or traffic light, having too many passengers in the car, driving at night without headlights, missing a bumper, tailgating, and passing over a double yellow line.  There are many more, but these are a few of the most common.

What to do if You are Charged after an Unlawful Stop in New Jersey

A criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights and perform the investigation needed to not only build a solid defense for you, but to challenge the legality of the stop itself.  The police are not allowed to stop you on a hunch or because they think you may commit a traffic violation or other crime. Your attorney can potentially argue that the traffic stop was unwarranted and have your case thrown out altogether.

What sets an exceptional attorney apart in obtaining justice for clients is a willingness to persevere until everything that can be done has been done. You deserve to have your rights protected, and hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can do that for you is important if you have been charged with a crime or traffic violation in New Jersey.

Letting things like this go is never a good idea when you need a defense that works in Florham Park, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Harding, Boonton, Madison, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey. Contact 973-524-7238 or fill out the form to speak with a criminal attorney as soon as possible.

What to Know about DWI Resulting in Accidents and Injuries in New Jersey

Everyone has made a wrong decision, and the consequences can sometimes be grave.  The charges for driving while under the influence when an accident is involved can add up to severe charges.  If you have been charged with a DWI and caused an accident, it is imperative that you contact a defense attorney immediately.

What if an Accident Happens in a DWI Case in NJ?

An accident can add more charges than just a DWI, some of which are felony criminal offenses. These are called indictable offenses in New Jersey and they carry terms of imprisonment for those convicted.  You can also be responsible financially for the injuries of those involved in the accident if it is determined to be your fault in civil court.  Abandoning the scene of an accident, which sometimes happens when the driver is afraid of arrest, can add even more charges for which you may also receive enhanced penalties.

How Severe are Charges For a DWI Accident Causing Bodily Injury in NJ?

The charge for DWI resulting in bodily injury is assault by auto. New Jersey comes down particularly hard on DWI accident cases, especially when the accident seriously injures someone. Often, what they consider a “serious” injury is painted with a broad brush.  Cases regarding bodily injury in an accident where the at-fault driver was driving while intoxicated are a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.  A third-degree crime takes place when there is serious bodily injury. The penalties are 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.  There are several criteria to be charged with a second-degree crime, which is the most severe: the accident occurred in a school crossing or school zone, the driver was violating the state’s DWI law, and the injuries caused are considered serious.

What Constitutes Bodily and Serious Bodily Injury in DUI Related Accidents?

Bodily injury can be defined as impairment of a physical condition, pain, or illness and serious bodily injury is one where the victim suffers permanent disfigurement, a risk of dying, loss of a body part, loss of function of a body part, or the loss of an organ.

Facing Charges For NJ DWI Resulting in Death

The charge for a DWI resulting in death is also known as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.  There are three parts that the prosecutor must show for a conviction of vehicular manslaughter, also called death by auto or vessel.  The first is that the accused was, in fact, driving the vehicle, and second, they were doing so in a reckless manner.  Driving recklessly means they were driving while intoxicated, had fallen asleep at the wheel, did not stay in their lane, or were using a hand-held device.  Weaving in and out of traffic, racing, or driving at a dangerously high rate of speed are also categorized as reckless driving. The third component is that the defendant was the direct cause of the victim’s death.

Several years ago, New Jersey passed a law which is written explicitly for vehicular homicide cases where the perpetrator was driving while under the influence. This offense is easier for the state to prove, as it requires fewer elements to get a conviction. According to the strict liability vehicular homicide statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3, a driver can be charged with violating this law if they are involved in an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and someone else is killed due to the accident. In these cases, the prosecution need only prove that the driver was driving while intoxicated or impaired by a substance, and that the death of the other individual was not too unrelated to the driver’s conduct leading up to the crash. This strict liability case removes the presumption of non-incarceration, even though the charge itself is a third degree indictable offense.

How to Determine the Degree and Penalties for a DUI Accident that Caused Death in NJ

First-degree vehicular homicide has a potential fine of $200,000 and a 10 to 20-year prison sentence. First and second-degree crimes under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5 differ only in the fact that with a second-degree charge, the DWI accident wasn’t in a school zone.  Vehicular homicide in the second degree carries 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. For a strict liability vehicular homicide charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3, the degree of crime is less but the sentencing parameters are stringent. In the third degree, a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 is applied.  Typically, if it is the first offense, jail time is not mandatory. However, if it is a conviction for third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, there is a presumption of imprisonment.

Importance and Purpose of Civil Reservation In These Cases

If a driver enters a guilty plea to assault by auto or vehicular manslaughter, and they receive a civil reservation, the civil court is not permitted to use the guilty plea against the driver in a lawsuit.  Its purpose is to allow someone to accept a plea of guilty without having to worry that it will automatically make them civilly liable for the victim’s damages.  Without this protection, the courts would be overflowing with needless trials of people seeking exoneration to avoid being found liable automatically in civil court. A civil lawsuit in these cases can be financially devastating.

Have You Been Charged in a DWI Accident in NJ?

There are numerous components that have to fit together in a particular way for the prosecutor’s case to be airtight.  For this reason, an experienced defense attorney can help create the reasonable doubt necessary to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether. There are many mitigating circumstances that can be leveraged to move the balance in our favor. If you or someone you know has been charged with assault by auto or vehicular homicide related to a DWI accident, you need to hire someone who can protect you. A battle-tested defense lawyer can work to make sure every avenue is taken to help minimize or mitigate the consequences in your DUI accident case. We have a passion for defending our clients and a history of favorable outcomes in Parsippany, Florham Park, Madison, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Morristown, and other towns in Morris County NJ.

Don’t wait another day to get a head start on your defense. Call 973-524-7238 to speak with an attorney who can help. Consultations are always provided at no cost anytime, day or night.

NJ DWI Law Updates Over Time

Do you know the differences in New Jersey DWI law between the previous law and the December 2019 amendments to 39:4-50? If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, you need a comprehensive understanding. The differences are significant and affect the daily lives of those convicted of driving while intoxicated charges across the state. Another tremendous factor in what role a conviction under the new law will play is whether your attorney is experienced with defending against it. You would be surprised how many attorneys out there haven’t handled very many DWI’s since before the December 2019 amendments. This is a serious issue and WILL negatively affect the outcome of your case and, therefore, your life in a very big way. For this reason, it is advisable to find an attorney who has successfully handled thousands of DWI cases on behalf of clients throughout their careers, and many DUI charges since the changes to DWI laws took effect.

Old School Drunk Driving

Most people have a family member they don’t see too often, but when they do, they are showered with fascinating tales of yesteryear, maybe their “glory” days. Every now and then you may hear a story of how they may have had one gin and tonic too many and decided to make the worst decision of their lives: drive home. If this happened in the ‘70s and ‘80s, if they got pulled over, it really depended on how well they knew the police officer. The endings to these stories may range from being driven home by the officer, or “followed home” by the officer, to literally having the book thrown at them in court.

The 1970s and ‘80s were a different time. DWIs were definitely not taken as seriously as they are today. The law before the amendments in December of 2019 included serious penalties. However, these penalties had to be applied the same way to a wide range of defendants, which spans those who have a serious drinking problem and may kill someone one day, to a person who may have had a faulty breathalyzer and didn’t have the right attorney. For these two defendants, the penalties were the same.

Pre-December 2019 Driving While Intoxicated Sentencing

Sentencing under the old laws immediately preceding the amendments went according to four levels of DWI offenses. The lowest, with the most lenient minimum sentence, would come with a person’s first offense if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was between .08% and .10%. The second level would also be a first offense; however, the BAC would have to be greater than 0.10%. The lowest level first offense had a 90-day suspension, with the Judge having the discretion of adding an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). An IID is a device installed on a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle that prevents the car from starting without the driver blowing into a breathalyzer and receiving a legal BAC level result. The Judge also had the discretion to institute community service but was mandated to sentence the defendant to 12 hours of attending the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC). The IDRC is a locked-down facility in which defendant’s learn about alcoholism. They were mandated to attend two 6-hour days there and cannot miss their session or risk being deemed non-compliant and having a warrant issued for their arrest.

Second time offenders were subject to a mandatory two year license suspension and at least 48 hours in the IDRC program. Third or subsequent offenders, the highest level of penalty and harshest sentence, carried a license suspension of ten years, community service, at least 48 hours of the IDRC, and a mandatory 6 months in jail. Three months out of the six-month sentence, however, could be spent at a drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation facility. Mandatory jail sentences for a third or subsequent offense came about through tragedy. A New Jersey case involving a drunk driver hitting and killing a young nineteen-year-old boy prompted former Governor James E. McGreevey to sign into law this sentencing guideline. The driver had four previous DWI convictions yet remained free and able to drink. Suspensions won’t stop everyone from getting behind the wheel after drinking a few or more. In 2003, when this law was signed, the statistic was 1/3 of all DWI arrests were repeat offenders, who are also 40% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

What Drunk Drivers Face in a Post-2019 DWI Landscape

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is probably one of the most successful and powerful lobbying groups when it comes to alcohol and driving. The MADD New Jersey affiliate has supported and fully endorsed the 2019 amendments. New Jersey, when the amendments passed, became the 34th “all-offender” state which means that we now require ALL DWI offenders to have the IID installed and the 37th state to use or test the device. The sentencing changes, in fact, largely revolve around the IID, and determine the length of suspensions for first time offenders with any BAC reading at the time of arrest. Here’s a quick reference guide to the new and improved 39:4-50:

Penalties § 39:4-50. Driving while intoxicated (2019)

# of DWI’s

(Blood Alcohol Concentration)

Ignition Interlock Device Time DL Suspension (LREK) Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (hours detained) Jail Fines ($) 

1st (greater than .08 but less than .10)

*No mandatory suspension of driver’s license*

6 months to 1 year Only suspended for the time it takes to have IID installed and operating 12 to 48 Up to 30 days $250 to 400
1st (greater than .10 but less than .15) 7 months to 1 year Only suspended for the time it takes to have IID installed and operating 12 to 48 hours Up to 30 days $300 to 500
1st (>.15) 9 to 15 months 4 to 6 months 12 to 48 hours Up to 30 days Same as above
2nd Offense 1 to 3 years post-suspension 1 to 2 years Min. 48 hours Up to 90 days $500 to 1000
3rd or subsequent offense 1 to 3 years  post-suspension 8 years Min. 48 hours Mandatory 180 days (90 days in rehab) $1000

For those convicted of a first offense and have a BAC reading below .10% but more than .08%, there is no mandatory license suspension. However, it is now mandatory for the defendant to have an IID installed in their vehicle. In order to start their vehicle, they will be required to blow into the device and achieve a BAC reading below 0.05%.

Just like the old statute, the 2019 amendments separate first-time offenders by BAC readings at the time of the offense. However, a new classification of offender is created: those with a BAC of .15% or above are still subject to a license suspension between four and six months long, as well as the IID installation.  The IID must be installed and utilized for a maximum of fifteen months and no less than nine months.

Second-time offenders may be suspended for up to two years and have the IID for no more than four years and no less than two. It is also important to know that for fines, these are the actual penalty for offense. However, the court always adds mandatory assessments required by law.

Safer Roads for All is Always the Goal

The legislature’s intent was to improve the likelihood of an effective deterring sentence. The previous statute still allowed convicted offenders to get behind the wheel if they drank because the suspended license is only effective if the offender is caught, which the families of victims can tell you is too late. Instead of waiting for a qualifying DWI offense, New Jersey now brings a proven method of ensuring drunk drivers, specifically those who have been previously convicted of drunk driving, do not commit the same offense again.  While most people think a suspended license may be the most invasive and disadvantageous penalty of a DWI sentence, the IID imposes monthly costs, installation fees, removal fees, in addition to court finds, mandatory assessments, insurance surcharges (MVC $1000 penalty per year for three years). Now that the suspension isn’t necessarily required, convicted offenders are now incentivized to control their drinking and be able to go to work so they can pay for their monthly expenses.

The new statute does not include a strict penalty for getting a DWI in a school zone. Before the 2019 amendments, if you were caught driving drunk in a school zone, the penalties were seriously augmented. A message had to be given to those “reckless” enough to drive drunk near children. Having realized that a school zone is not constantly filled with children every minute of the day, the legislature thought this harsh penalty to be obsolete. There is no longer a school zone provision in the DWI statute. School zones and 1,000 feet around them meant DWIs proven to occur there would ruin the life of whoever was driving drunk. Most DWIs happen late at night or distanced from the actual school property. No children are typically harmed. This elimination is consistent with New Jersey’s push toward rehabilitation.

DWI’s Are Serious Traffic Offenses in NJ Title 39

Every penalty listed in the chart above is considered a Consequence of Magnitude. Those words carry depth and weight. “Consequence” is defined as “a result or effect of an action or condition,” and  “magnitude” means “the great size or extent of something.” These penalties are a result of wrongful behavior intended solely to punish and rehabilitate. There is a fine line between punishment and rehabilitation or making life harder for the convicted versus helping the convicted change their lives and prevent any future offenses.

The only way to ensure that the proper balance is struck is to retain an experienced attorney who has defended against the 2019 world on DWI charges. Besides the perfection that’s required of the state to guarantee a conviction and the strict methodology put into place by precedent, the state can lead the court towards a more punitive conclusion to your matter than you can achieve with proper legal representation. With an experienced attorney, your life and family will be taken into consideration every step of the way. With knowledge, training, and success on their side, an accomplished DWI lawyer can often find mistakes made in how the arresting officer conducted everything from the initial stop, to the field sobriety testing, issues with the breathalyzer test or how it was administered, lack of strict adherence to protocols like the 20-minute observation period, and many more errors that could present your best path to a dismissal.

Contact a Lawyer with Proven Results Handling DUI Cases Since the New DWI Laws in New Jersey

For more information, call 973-524-7238 or fill out an online request for a free DWI legal consultation today.

Even if no one actually gets hurt, pointing a firearm at another person can land you in serious criminal trouble in New Jersey. Perhaps it was by accident or maybe an ill-humored joke, but if you are facing charges for aggravated assault or assault on a police officer, your liberty is at stake.

Legal Implications of Pointing a Gun at Someone in New Jersey

If you point a firearm at someone, you can be convicted of fourth degree aggravated assault in New Jersey. In order to be found guilty of this offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally pointed a firearm at another person while demonstrating extreme disregard to the value of the person’s life. If convicted of fourth degree aggravated assault for pointing a firearm, you may be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and face fines of up to $10,000.

Special Consideration for Pointing a Firearm at Police Officer

If you take these same actions against a police officer, point a laser device at them, or even just display or brandish a weapon in a police officer’s direction, you can be charged with aggravated assault as a third degree offense. If convicted, you can face between 3 and 5 years in state prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $15,000.

In order to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly pointed or brandished a firearm at a law enforcement officer or in their direction, you knew the individual was a law enforcement officer, and you did so under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of the officer’s life. With regard to elements like your  knowledge that the individual was a law enforcement officer, the prosecution must prove that you were actually aware of the fact or you were aware that there is a high probability that the individual was a law enforcement officer.

It is also third degree aggravated assault to point, use, or display an imitation firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer to intimidate them, put them in fear of bodily injury, or for any unlawful purpose. It does not matter if you knew the gun was fake or did not intend to actually hurt the officer. The imitation firearm must merely be reasonably capable of being mistaken as a real firearm.

Pointing a firearm or imitation firearm at an officer is subject to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires those convicted of pointing a gun at an officer to serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before they can become eligible for parole.

Pointing a Firearm and Accompanying Criminal Offenses

Depending on the circumstances giving rise to your aggravated assault charges, you may face additional criminal charges like unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, or resisting arrest.

New Jersey’s gun laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Unlawful possession of a weapon or possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose can result in years of imprisonment with a minimum period of parole ineligibility. The same circumstances giving rise to a charge for aggravated assault can form the basis of a possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose charge, which carries potential imprisonment of five to ten years.

Preparing a Strong Defense if You Have been Charged with Pointing a Gun

There is no one-size-fits-all defense approach for pointing a firearm charges in New Jersey, and it is critical that you have the facts and evidence in your case examined thoroughly by an attorney who has handled many of these cases before. Ultimately, the goal of your defense team is to exonerate you or substantially reduce the charges against you and, therefore, your potential penalties.

If you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible to participate in Pretrial Intervention (PTI), which can enable you to avoid a criminal conviction. However, if your specific charges are subject to the Graves Act, then you will have to obtain a Graves Act Waiver in order to be able to participate in a diversionary program like PTI. To obtain a Graves Act waiver, you must be a first time offender and show that the imposition of the prison term required under Graves would not serve the interests of justice in your case. This can be a complicated process, and it is very important that you have the assistance of a knowledgeable defense attorney to have you navigate your way through it.

Securing a Graves Act Waiver is no easy task; however, it is by no means an impossibility. With a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer who has secured many Gravest Act Waivers, negotiated pleas to lesser sentences, assisted with the process for successful admission into PTI for clients, and won case dismissals involving guns and other weapons many times in their career, you can trust that your case and your future is in good hands.

Need to Speak with a Lawyer about a Pointing a Firearm Case in Morris County NJ

As there are often other criminal charges that accompany a charge of pointing a gun at someone, particularly if that person is a police officer, it is necessary to take a holistic approach to your defense strategy. For a complimentary consultation with an experienced attorney defending clients accused of pointing a firearm in Morristown, Rockaway, Parsippany, Roxbury, Mount Olive, Denville, Dover, Florham Park, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey, contact 973-524-7238, or fill out this form today.

Essential Information to Consider About NJ Ammunition Regulations

In the state of New Jersey, it may be challenging but by no means impossible to obtain legal forms of ammunition and, for that matter, firearms. However, individuals must follow all set regulations. To avoid complex legal repercussions, individuals should prioritize learning about gun ownership and the legitimacy of ammunition acquisition and use. Here we discuss the legalities and particulars of ammunition laws in the Garden State.

Do You Need a Permit to Buy Ammunition in New Jersey?

If you are interested in buying ammunition, the first question you need to ask yourself is: what kind of ammunition? And for what kind of weapon? What you are required to do next to comply with New Jersey state laws will largely be guided by your answers. There are specific requirements in New Jersey regarding the purchase, transportation, possession, and use of ammunition (just as for weapons). People looking to purchase ammunition in the Garden State may be required to obtain a permit, while in some instances, there may be no obligation to provide such a permit.

Perhaps you are going to purchase ammunition for a handgun. If that is the case, you need to have an active Firearms Purchaser Identification Card, Permit to Purchase a Handgun, or Permit to Carry a Handgun to complete the purchase. Other firearms do not necessarily entail the same requirements for permits to purchase ammunition. For example, let’s say you are interested in purchasing ammunition for a shotgun, rifle, paintball gun, flare gun, blank gun, air gun, or airsoft gun. In that situation, you are able to move forward with the ammunition purchasing process for the weapon without showing a permit.

Overall, individuals are expected to have followed all related regulations, including possessing relevant permits or licenses in advance. Handgun ammunition acquisitions can only be lawfully made using a Firearms Purchaser ID card or permits to carry or purchase a handgun. A permit is not required when purchasing ammunition for shotguns, rifles, and blank guns, as is the case when buying ammo for paintball guns and pellets for air guns.

The transfer or sale of handguns and handgun ammunition to individuals under 21 years of age is prohibited in NJ, including giving ammo away or any other form of disposal. In addition, persons under 18 are not permitted to acquire a firearm by any means. Before attempting to file for any of the aforementioned identification cards, permits, or other licenses, it is always in your best interest to first consult with the local police department or the nearest state firearms barracks, as well as an experienced NJ gun lawyer who knows the complexities of ammunition requirements and how they may apply to your situation.

Does New Jersey Allow All Kinds of Ammunition?

Possessing certain kinds of ammunition in New Jersey is illegal due to the kind of ammunition involved. First and foremost, body or dum-dum armor penetrating or piercing bullets are generally illegal for the public to possess in the state of NJ. Ammunition designed to penetrate, pierce, or breach body armor is primarily intended for use in handguns. The bullet’s design consists of a core or jacket (if the jacket measures more than .025 inches in thickness) comprised of tungsten carbide, a dense bronze, or any other material stronger than a rating of 72 or higher on the Rockwell B Hardness Scale and therefore able to penetrate body armor. Currently, the state is working to make body armor penetrating bullets solely permissible for law enforcement officials. Collectors may purchase and collect such ammunition but can only have three representatives of each distinctive variation. Examples of distinct variations may be differences in material composition, bullet design, or head stamps according to 2C:39-3 (f). See N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) for detailed NJ code on this matter and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-6 for related exemptions.

Hollow point bullets are likewise prohibited in the state of New Jersey, with limited exceptions. Except for certain sportsmen activities, such as shooting targets and hunting, hollow-nose or hollow-point bullets are illegal under state law. Additionally, individuals are permitted to possess such ammunition on their private property or when traveling for purchasing purposes. This kind of ammo has a divot or cavity at the tip of a hollow-point or nosed bullet, which allows the bullet to expand when it hits the shooter’s intended target, causing a substantially more lethal outcome and impact.

Limitations on the Number of Rounds Per Magazine in NJ

Magazines are internal or external boxes, drums, or tubes designed to hold ammunition rounds that can also feed gun ammunition repeatedly or store the ammo. Gun magazines are limited to a specific number of rounds in the state. Known as high or large-capacity magazines, these magazines hold more shots than the standard capacity for a particular firearm. Thus, it is illegal to possess any more than ten rounds of ammunition in one magazine under state law.

Consequences for Possessing Illegal Ammunition in New Jersey

Outside of the eligible exemptions referenced above and those contained in the governing statutes, possessing hollow-nose or hollow-point ammunition is a fourth degree offense, punishable by imprisonment of up to 18 months in a New Jersey state correctional facility. Possession of large or high-capacity magazines results in a fourth degree offense, and if convicted, consequences can amount to up to 18 months of incarceration and up to $10,000 fines.

Under New Jersey law, an individual charged with possessing a form of prohibited ammunition may still face harsh penalties even if a more severe crime does not accompany the charge. In cases of ammunition possession, violations are usually serious indictable offenses of the fourth degree, punishable by 18 months in prison. Then there may be additional charges for unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and possession of other illegal weapons.

Besides ammunition concerns, many weapons, such as sawed-off shotguns, are illegal in NJ. Possession of a sawed-off shotgun is a third degree crime. The state also has a ban on assault weapons and many other guns. The consequences are severe for individuals found with illegal weapons, ammunition, magazines, and weapon or ammo modifications.

Call a Knowledgeable NJ Attorney for Answers to Your Weapons and Ammunition Questions and Help if You Have been Arrested for an Ammunition Offense

Avoid severe legal troubles by adhering to New Jersey’s gun laws regarding weapons and ammunition. New Jersey’s gun laws have been restricted further in 2022. Considering this, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. As regulations in NJ are developing on this matter, even the most experienced and responsible owners have questions. Again, you should consult your local police department and a knowledgeable New Jersey weapons law attorney before acquiring, using, transporting, selling, or purchasing a gun or ammunition.

New Jersey requires individuals to follow firearms applicant procedures stringently and does not take violations of any ammo or gun laws lightly. If you need legal advice regarding NJ gun laws or have a criminal charge pending related to ammunition or weapons, contact a lawyer who handles these cases on a regular basis to make sure you have the latest correct answers to your particular questions. Contact us at 973-524-7238 for a free and confidential consultation. You can also use our online contact form. We serve clients in Jefferson, Harding, Montville, Florham Park, Boonton, Madison, Morristown, Rockaway, Parsippany, and other towns in Morris County and across the state.

Certain sex crime convictions in New Jersey require sex offender registration under Megan’s Law. However, registration and long-term supervision may be a burden of constant reporting to the police or parole officer for address changes and location check-ins. And since the registry is public, the reporting and registration are a source of stigma. If you are a registered sex offender, you may have questions about the process and eligibility for Megan’s Law Removal in New Jersey. Here are some common questions and answers regarding removal from Megan’s List and sex offender registration requirements.

What are the Requirements to Get off Megan’s List?

To qualify for removal from Megan’s List, you must have no convictions or offenses for at least 15 years from the date of your conviction or release from a penal institution, whichever is later.

I only have a non-related sex offense charge in the last 15 years. Can I Still Qualify for Removal from Megan’s List?

No, one new police arrest and charge can set you back years and make you ineligible for removal. In other words, if you have a clear record but commit an offense in the 14th year since your conviction or release date, the 15-year clock still applies. Before attempting to remove yourself from the registry, you should also know that the offense does not have to be a sex crime to disqualify you, according to case law. Any violation, whether it is a crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense. Even if the state dismisses the charges, the initial charges can prevent your removal or at the very least, prompt a prosecutor’s objection to your motion to be terminated from registration obligations.

What is the Process to be Removed from the Registry?

You must file a motion for removal with supporting documents with the superior court and notify the prosecutor’s office. One of those documents in your motion must be a mental health evaluation by a professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. You want to choose a highly-respected professional that the courts and the prosecutor respect to make your job of convincing the judge easier. The professional’s determination must be that you no longer pose a safety threat to others.

Who has the Final Word on Whether I get Removed?

You must file your motion in the county of your original offense and sentence requiring registration, and the Chief Judge will assign who hears your motion.

Can I Still File a Motion to be Removed from Megan’s Law if I No Longer Live in the County Where I was Originally Sentenced?

Moving out of county or out of state does not prevent you from filing a motion to terminate your registration requirements. You can still file a motion in the county that initially sentenced you to report as a sex offender based on your original sex crime charges.

What Do I Need to Prove to Get the Termination of my Reporting Obligations?

A judge will grant your motion for removal if you prove that you are no longer a safety threat to the community and have only one sex offense conviction. More than one sex offense conviction disqualifies you from removal. In addition, your sex conviction must not be for aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault by sexual penetration or by force, and you were not acquitted because of insanity for multiple sex offenses (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4c). It is up to you as the moving party to convince the judge by clear and convincing evidence that you have been offense-free for 15 years since your conviction or release and pose no threat to others’ safety.

What Documents Should I Have to Show the Court when Petitioning for my Removal?

You want to attach any documents that show the judge your good character and personality that is peaceful and no longer a danger to others. So, letters from others who know you can testify in an affidavit about your good character. You may also want to attach documents or testimony showing your employment, such as W2s or paycheck stubs. But you want to show that your home life is stable and your outside activities, such as hobbies, reveal the person you are. Finally, any proof of counseling, including reports and evidence of family and community support, paints the picture of a functioning community member. You or your lawyer should also prepare a legal brief citing the relevant law to support your motion. The motion should also contain a notice of motion, the legal brief, order for the judge to sign, and an expert opinion about your safety.

How Long Does the Removal Process Take?

It may take several months, as your or your lawyer must verify your conviction date, review any probation records, records showing which tier you scored after evaluation (a tier shows level of danger to others), police reports, and anything else that persuades a judge to grant your motion.

Is the Removal Motion Process Different if I Committed a Sex Offense as a Juvenile?

If you were under 14 when you committed the sex crime, your removal can occur at 18 if you apply and the judge hears your motion. This is because your registration requirements end at 18. Nevertheless, you still must prove you are no longer a community threat. If you were over 14, you must apply following the same procedure as an adult sex offender.

Is It mandatory to Have a Lawyer to Be Removed from Megan’s List?

You are not required to have an attorney, but you should. You must know the law and procedures of the court to file a timely motion that the judge will accept and be persuaded by, so you want the motion to be prepared and argued by a professional. A well-versed New Jersey Megan’s Law Attorney can do all the necessary work to complete and file the motion. A good lawyer knows how to show you in your best light and make the most powerful case for your removal. In addition, if you do not know how to file a motion or follow procedures, you may not get far in your efforts to remove yourself from Megan’s Law registration obligations.

As you can see from the reading, retaining an experienced NJ Megan’s Law Lawyer is a good idea to start the removal process from Megan’s List. Having been called upon as a legal resource regarding Megan’s Law for prominent publications and news outlets in New Jersey, I have the knowledge, the contacts, and the experience to meticulously handle your motion to be terminated from Megan’s Law obligations. With proven results in these cases over the last 15 years, I can help you gather and assemble all of the necessary evidence and prepare you for the process. Being removed from Megan’s List will allow you to apply for new opportunities in your life and expand beyond the confines of being seen as a registered sex offender. If you have any other questions about your specific Megan’s Law Removal situation in New Jersey, contact 973-524-7238 or request a free consultation online.

Additional Information:

With some of the most rigorous gun control laws in the nation, New Jersey residents and visitors must be very careful to follow all gun permit requirements to avoid legal liability and potential criminal charges. As a prospective or current gun owner in New Jersey, or someone who plans to move, visit, or travel through the state, it is important to understand the various types of New Jersey gun permits, the process of obtaining a gun permit, appealing a denial of your gun permit application, and criminal charges that may apply if you fail to obtain a permit.

Main Types of Gun Permits in New Jersey

There are two basic types of gun permits in New Jersey: firearm purchase permits and carry permits.

Firearms Purchaser Identification Cards and Handgun Purchase Permits

New Jersey has two different firearm purchase permits, depending on what type of firearm you are purchasing. If you would like to purchase a handgun, you must apply for a New Jersey Permit to Purchase a Handgun. To purchase a shotgun or rifle, you must obtain a New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FID).

An FID will allow you to keep a legal firearm in your home, place of business, and certain other very specific allowances, like when you bring the firearm to a gun range for target practice. You can purchase and possess multiple rifles and shotguns with an FID, but you will need an additional permit for each handgun that you wish to purchase. Also, you may only buy one handgun every 30 days.

Process to Apply for a New Jersey Gun Permit to Purchase

To obtain either of these permits, you must first contact your local police department or the New Jersey State Police station covering your area, to get an Originating Agency Identifier (ORI) number. You will then use this ORI number to submit an application online using the Firearms Application and Registration System (FARS).

In your application, you will be asked to submit your biographical and contact information, information about your criminal background, history of domestic violence, whether you have been committed to or confined in a mental institution or a hospital for treatment of a mental or psychiatric condition, and whether you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. You will also be required to certify that you are not a member of an organization that aims to overthrow the federal government or the government of the State of New Jersey. Further, you will be asked to provide the name, addresses, and phone numbers of two reputable people who know you and are not your relatives.

In addition to all of the information asked in the application, anyone applying for a firearms permit for the first time needs to undergo fingerprinting, which is handled by IndentoGo. Applicants are also required to consent to a mental health records search. This is accomplished through the Consent for Mental Health Records Search form. A driver’s license, passport, or another form of identification issued by the government must accompany your application as well.

Handgun Carry Permits in New Jersey

When it comes to issuing handgun carry permits, New Jersey is one of the strictest states in the nation. Unlike some other states, the average New Jersey resident is not generally eligible to obtain a Permit to Carry a Handgun without meeting rather stringent criteria. Applicants for gun carry permits must be of good character, not subject to any disabilities that would prevent them from getting a handgun or firearms purchaser identification permit, able to establish that they are knowledgeable about and well-acquainted with the appropriate use and safe way to handle firearms, and demonstrate a justifiable need to carry a handgun.

If you are a private citizen, to meet the burden of a justifiable need to carry a handgun, you must show that you have an urgent self-protection need. You must be able to support this with evidence showing threats or an attack that demonstrates the danger cannot be avoided by any other way than issuing them a carry permit. Other qualifying reasons for justifiable need relate to individuals with specific types of jobs in which they are exposed to a serious threat of physical harm in the regular course of their duties. Armored car personnel are a good example of this type of justifiable need qualification.

Frequent Reasons for Rejected NJ Gun Permit Applications

There are several reasons why a gun permit application may be denied. These reasons include your criminal record, the safety and welfare of public health, your age, medical, mental, or alcoholic background, a physical disability, a prior drug offense, a history of domestic violence or restraining order against you, or falsifying of an application.

Appealing a Gun Permit Denial in NJ

If you are denied, you have the right to file an appeal. To appeal the decision, you must file a hearing request with the Superior Court in the county where the application was filed within 30 days of the initial denial. This request must also be served on the County Prosecutor, your municipality’s chief of police, and the New Jersey State Police Superintendent. Your hearing will be scheduled within 30 days after your request is received.

However, filing an appeal is not always the proper way to handle a denied gun permit application in New Jersey. If the reason for the denial was due to a criminal conviction in your history and that conviction can be expunged, you can abandon the application while you work with an attorney to expunge the conviction from your record and then reapply for the permit.

Criminal Charges for Possession of a Firearm without a Permit in NJ

Even if you have no intent to harm another person with a firearm, if you have a firearm in your possession in New Jersey but you do not have a permit for it, you can be charged with unlawful possession of a handgun or unlawful possession of a rifle or shotgun. You can also face these charges if you are transporting a firearm in your vehicle without following the necessary requirements by law in NJ. This can occur if you have a gun in the car but do not have a proper permit, or if you have a permitted firearm in the vehicle but it is being stored in an unlawful manner. For example, you can’t drive with a gun in your glove compartment, regardless of whether or not you have a permit for the weapon.

Unlawful possession of a handgun is a second degree offense. If convicted, you may have to spend 5 to 10 years in prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $150,000. Unlawful possession of a rifle or shotgun is a third degree offense, which carries potential penalties of 3 to 5 years of imprisonment.

NJ Graves Act weapon for Gun Crimes

These charges are also made more extreme by the application of the Graves Act, which is a New Jersey law that requires mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes involving firearms. Possession of a rifle, shotgun, handgun, machine gun, assault weapon, and several other possessory offenses are governed by the Graves Act. Additionally, many crimes committed while in possession of firearms are also subject to the Act’s sentencing mandates.

When a person is convicted of a Graves Act offense, they must serve a minimum term without coming up for parole eligibility. The prison sentence must be the longer period of either 42 months or fifty percent of the total sentence. This applies to a third, second, or first degree charge under the Graves Act. So getting arrested for an unpermitted rifle, shotgun, handgun, or other firearms can essentially mean you’re looking at mandatory prison time without parole if found guilty.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Gun Permit Lawyer

New Jersey’s gun laws are rigid and often confusing. If you are a gun owner or prospective gun owner, and you are uncertain about how to comply with New Jersey’s gun permit and possession laws, it is wise to consult with a knowledgeable gun law attorney. If your gun application has been denied for any reason, your options and best path for moving forward depend on the reason for the denial and the facts surrounding your situation. Before appealing or abandoning your application, you should also consult with an experienced firearms lawyer in New Jersey. Finally, if you have been charged with a gun-related offense for failing to have the required gun permit in New Jersey, it is crucial that you seek the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the intricacies of gun laws and has an extensive background of gun cases defended and won.

Our team of experienced and skilled attorneys is ready and able to help you with any and all legal issues related to NJ guns and weapons laws. We have a formidable history of successfully maneuvered cases involving gun permits, gun charge defense, detention hearings for weapons offenses, Graves Act Waivers, gun permit appeals, weapons forfeiture hearings, and much more in the realm of firearms law. If you need help or have gun law-related questions anywhere in the state of NJ, contact 973-524-7238 for a free consultation. You can also request a free consultation online.

An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) is a gun violence protective order which prohibits individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others from purchasing, owning, or possessing a firearm or ammunition. The assumption behind these orders is that the individual may not have done anything yet, but they are a threat to themselves and those around them.

Red Flag Law Timeline

The United States Constitution gives citizens the right to possess firearms, but that right is not absolute.  In 1999, the state of Connecticut was the first in the nation to enact a red flag law after a mass shooting. It was followed by California (2014) and Washington (2018). In Indiana, when a mentally unwell man slew a police officer, they passed theirs in Florida. In 2018, New Jersey passed the Extreme Risk Protective Order Act as it saw a troubling rise in gun violence.  Since the law has been in effect, more attention has been focused on gun violence prevention, and at least one ERPO has been issued daily.  It was observed that visible signs by the perpetrators were indicators of potentially dangerous behavior.

Primary Purpose of an ERPO in New Jersey

An ERPO allows the courts to seize guns and weapons from those suspected of posing a risk to the community or themselves. The individual can neither purchase them nor obtain a permit to purchase or carry them if a judge determines that the individual is a danger to themselves or their community and has been allowed to have a firearm.

Who Can Request an ERPO?

A law enforcement officer, member of the household, or family member with whom the individual does not reside can request an ERPO.  The Petition for Temporary Extreme Risk Protective Order can be filed at the Criminal Division of the County Superior Court, or at a local law enforcement agency.  Other people may also submit a request, but it has to be done through the local law enforcement agency.  The complainant explains the potential danger to law enforcement, and once having been convinced, the police officer requests the order. In these situations, the order can be requested from anyone within the individual’s circle of influence.

Distinctions Between a Temporary (TERPO) and a Final (FERPO) Order

The TERPO only requires testimony from the petitioner or law enforcement, and the respondent is not present at the hearing.  The hearing is expedited, and testimony is received from the petitioner or affidavit. To obtain a TERPO, probable cause must be shown.  If the individual owns or possesses firearms and ammunition, presents an immediate danger of bodily injury by owning or possessing firearms or ammunition, or is the subject of or has violated a temporary or final restraining order, they qualify for a TERPO.  The respondent cannot avoid this process.

The judge considers many variables to apply a TERPO.  Most of them involve direct violence or possible violence, like having an ERPO or having violated one, having a restraining order or having violated one,  a juvenile record with violent charges, criminal history, or any additional information offered by law enforcement or the prosecutor.

In 10 days, a hearing for the FERPO will be held. The respondent attends the hearing providing witnesses, submitting documents and information, and cross-examining witnesses. This is not something you want to do without a lawyer.

Standard of Proof for an ERPO – A Preponderance of Evidence

To obtain a Final Extreme Risk Protection Order, the petitioner must show that their evidence is more solid and convincing than the respondent’s.  That is to say, the facts in the petitioner’s case are more probable than not.  A FERPO requires a preponderance of the evidence, which is a kind of proof that is less than reasonable doubt but does require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  At the close of the hearing, if it is decided that the respondent is a danger to themselves and others, an order will be made effective to prevent them from owning, possessing, or purchasing a gun or other weapon. They will have to give up their gun permit(s) as well. If it is later known that the weapons belong to someone other than the respondent, and it can be proven, the property may be returned to the owner.

The court looks at many relevant factors when determining whether or not a FERPO will be issued. Factors under consideration include: if the respondent has a history of violence either as an adult or juvenile to themselves or others, has ever used or brandished a firearm, recently purchased a firearm, weapon, or ammunition, has an addiction or is receiving treatment for that addiction, has mental health issues, has been institutionalized involuntarily, is recovering from mental illness issues or has a history or prior arrests of threatened physical force, in terms of arrests such as animal cruelty, stalking, domestic violence or other violent acts.  The court also accounts for whether the respondent has violated or been the subject of a restraining order, a sexual assault restraining order, a separate order. The existence of, or violation of, another protection order is another critical factor.

Implications of a FERPO in NJ. Can It Be Appealed or Terminated?

To terminate or lift a FERPO, either party can submit a motion and inform the party that petitioned for the order initially. Once everyone has been served, a hearing will be calendarized, and on that day, the court will consider whether to terminate the order. The interested party has the burden of proof. They must prove they no longer pose a danger to themselves or anyone else and that their ownership or control of a firearm is not a safety concern.  The judge will apply the factors used to determine the necessity of an order, such as the arrest record and the person’s mental health under the FERPO.

Speak to a Morristown Extreme Risk Protective Order Attorney if You Have a Case in Morris County, NJ

Once you are named in an ERPO in New Jersey, your weapons and gun rights are in jeopardy. This requires a skillful, aggressive defense. A solid gun rights lawyer can advise you on how to best defend against a final extreme risk protective order and work on your behalf to avoid an ERPO being made final altogether. If that is not a possibility, an attorney can strategize and assist you with the complex process of requesting to have the order removed because its results are far-reaching. As a dedicated defender of clients facing guns and weapons violations of all kinds in the state of New Jersey, our attorneys will fight for your rights passionately and give you the peace of mind that your case is in excellent hands. We serve areas like Chatham, Harding, Morris Plains, Florham Park, Morristown, Riverdale, Roxbury, Hanover and other towns in Morris County, and statewide.

Call 973-524-7238 to speak with a lawyer free of charge regarding your New Jersey ERPO questions. We are entirely at your disposal and ready to ensure your right to bear arms is not infringed upon.