High Capacity Magazine Charges 2C:39-3(j)
We have seen a big uptick in these large capacity clip cases since New Jersey changed the law from 15 round clips to 10 round clips at the end of 2018. Prior to the change in the law, the standard clip size of most semi-automatic handguns was 15 round magazines. When the legislature first passed the 10 round magazine law, they gave thousands of legal gun owners throughout New Jersey a limited amount of time to either sell, turn in, or dispose of their gun larger magazines prior to the implementation of the new law. Once that window of time passed, the old 15 round clips automatically became illegal 4th degree felonies even if they were purchased legally before the passage of the amendment. Many people estimate that a significant portion of the population did not comply. The only gun owners who were allowed to be grandfathered were New Jersey law enforcement. From our experience it appears that many people were not aware of the new law and unknowingly became in violation of it, while others refused to turn in their clips because they felt it infringed on the constitutional rights through the 2nd Amendment. This meant that overnight, an uncertain amount of legal gun owners became potential felons. Over the years, our law firm has represented dozens of clients for unlawful guns and high capacity magazine charges. Our criminal defense lawyers often appear in Hudson County Superior and surrounding areas such as Hoboken, Harrison, Jersey City, Bayonne, Union City, Kearny, North Bergen, Weehawken and Secaucus.
What Are The Penalties For Having A Large Capacity Magazine?
Possession of a high capacity ammonuition clip is a 4th degree indictable crime (commonly known as a felony) in New Jersey. Our state has for degrees of felony – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th degree – with 1st degree being the worst. But even though a 4th degree is the lowest range of felonies in New Jersey, it is still serious because all felony charges carry a potential sentence of state prison if convicted. In fact, fourth degree crimes carry up to 18 months in state prison, 5 years of supervised probation and other penalties such as community service. Even worse though for most gun owners, is the realization that a felony conviction can result in a forfeiture of your weapons, confiscation of your firearms purchaser identification card, and a bar from owning guns in the future. That is why it is always important to try and challenge the allegations against you to secure a dismissal, downgrade or admission in to Pre-Trial Intervention that can result in a dismissal of the charges at the conclusion of the program.
What is a High Capacity Magazine?
Simply put, a high capacity ammonuition magazine in New Jersey is any clip, drum or tube that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammo and attaches to a semi-automatic firearm. Because of the nature of the statute, we typically see these kinds of charges with gun owners who have semi-automatic handguns such as a Glock or AR style rifles with “banana clips”. The gun magazine acts as an ammunition storage and feeding device for a repeating firearm (automatic or semi-automatic guns). The magazine works by holding ammonuition in an organize storage device and then sequentially pushes each one up into a position where it can be loaded into the guns chamber by the firearm’s moving action and then fired out of the barrel. The law against high capacity magazines specifically targets detachable magazines and not fixed ammo magazines that can not be removed from the gun. This was a strategic approach by the state legislature to target gun violence, specifically gang violence and potential mass shootings, where the gunmen typically use high capacity magazines that can sometimes hold dozens of rounds and can be easily swapped out after they are empty to allow the firearm to fire even more bullets quickly and succinctly.
Are There Defenses To Possession Of A High Capacity Ammo Clip?
The most common defense against a high capacity magazine is typically challenging the possessory element of the law. For instance, although it was found in your vicinity – it is not yours and you did not know it was there. These are common place because typically a charge for a high capacity magazine results from the search of vehicle or house and are not always found on someone’s person such as in their pocket. There are also more technical or nuanced defenses that have to do with the charge of not fitting into the legal definition of what the legislature aimed to target with the law. For example, high capacity magazines should only apply to ammo clips for semi-automatic guns. So that means a high capacity magazine for a bolt action gun should not be charged under the law. Moreover, high capacity ammo clips that only can hold certain smaller caliber ammonuition such as .22 caliber rimfire ammo should not be charged under 2C:39-3(j). It is important to note that ignorance of the law is not a defense. So unfortunately you can not argue that you were unaware of the change in the law or you unknowingly inherited some guns with high capacity clips from a family member.