Possession of a Handgun Without a Permit

Trenton Handgun Possession Defense Attorney

The Criminal Division of the Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton presides over slews of illegal handgun charges annually. Unlawful possession of a handgun is much more common at the county courthouse than you might anticipate, especially given the presence of the City of Trenton and the proximity to Pennsylvania were handguns are much more accessible. If you were arrested for carrying a handgun without a permit, you are among many charged with possessing a pistol or revolver illegally in Mercer County each year, including in Trenton, Ewing, Hamilton, Lawrence and Princeton. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are astute advocates that have represented countless individuals on handgun charges. An attorney on our defense team, including our former prosecutors, are ready to challenge the prosecutor and police so that you achieve the very best outcome of your firearm case. For a free consultation with a lawyer at the firm to discuss your unlawful handgun offense, contact our office anytime 24/7. Lawyers are ready to assist you immediately.

Possession of an Illegal Handgun in Mercer County New Jersey

It is a second degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b to possess a handgun without a valid carry permit. The requirements to obtain a carry permit are extraordinarily high in New Jersey so handgun charges overwhelming involve individuals who are unlicensed.

Material Elements

There are four elements of proof that must be shown by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office in order to convict someone of an unlicensed handgun offense. The state must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that: (1) the object is a handgun; (2) that the accused actually or constructively possessed; (3) knowingly; and (4) without permit. There is no requirement that the pistol or revolver be concealed or that the weapon to be loaded with bullets or a cartridge in order to secure a conviction for violating 2C:39-5b.

Definition of Handgun

An instrument is a “hand gun” pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(k) if it is a “pistol, revolver or other firearm originally designed or manufactured to be fired by the use of a single hand.”

Actual or Constructive Possession

Actual possession means that the accused has direct custody of the gun. Someone constructively possesses a revolver or pistol when they are aware of the presence of the weapon and have both the ability and intention to exercise control over it in the future.

Knowing Conduct

The defendant must knowingly possess a handgun meaning that he/she is in possession and that the item is a handgun.

Graves Act

A conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun falls under the Graves Act. What this means is that a mandatory period of parole ineligibility is automatically triggered when someone is convicted of possessing a handgun unlawfully based failure to have a valid carry permit. A Graves Act offender, including someone convicted of possession of a handgun without a license, is required to serve at least one-half of his/her prison sentence or 42 months, whichever is greater, before becoming eligible for parole.


An individual may be fined up to $150,000 for a second degree crime under 2C:39-4. They also face a period of imprisonment of 5-10 years with a mandatory term of parole ineligibility as set forth previously. Unlike a flat sentence where no minimum term applies, an individual found guilty for possession of an unlicensed handgun cannot be paroled until he/she satisfies the period of parole ineligibility. The only way this can be avoided is if a Graves Act “waiver” is secured in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.2. The penalties for illegally possessing a handgun are enhanced to a first degree crime if the defendant has a prior criminal conviction for murder, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter, vehicular homicide, aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, robbery, carjacking, aggravated arson and burglary.

Downgrading for Pellet, Airsoft & BB Guns. If the handgun shoots/fires a projectile that is less than 3/8 in diameter using a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide or compressed air such as a Pellet, Airsoft or BB gun, failure to possess a carry permit is a third degree crime.

Separate Offense for Purchasing a Handgun Without a Permit. A charge for illegal possession of a handgun should be distinguished from purchasing or acquiring a firearm without a permit under N.J.S.A 2C:39-10a which is a fourth degree crime.

Ineligibility for ISP & Drug Court. An individual is ineligible for participation in the Intensive Supervision Program (“ISP”) and for Drug Court if they have been found guilty of possession of a handgun without a permit.

Ewing NJ Illegal Handgun Lawyers

Ewing is adjacent to an urban city like Trenton so it understandable that it has more illegal handgun charges than most area towns. For those charged with a firearm violation there or in another Mercer County municipality like West Windsor, Robbinsville, East Windsor, Hopewell Township or Hightstown, retaining a skilled attorney is an imperative. The lawyers that make up the criminal staff at the Marshall Law Firm have this pedigree and will fight the motor vehicle stop and search, entry into your residence or other circumstances that lead to seizure of a handgun. Wehave over 100 years of combined experience to put into action on your behalf so that you have every chance of averting a conviction for unlawful possession of a handgun. To speak to a lawyer immediately about your case, call 609–683–8102.

Contact Us

  1. 1 Free Consultation - Available 24/7
  2. 2 Over 200 Years of Combined Experience
  3. 3 Former County & Municipal Prosecutors

Fill out the contact form or call us at (855) 450-8310 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message