Category Archives: My Practice
I am working on a gun permit application for a client and everything should be done. A Captain from a police department in Passaic County was nice enough to follow up on my letter of representation. He informed me that everything is pretty much done but they are waiting on the mental health information from the Passaic County Adjuster’s Office. Two problems have combined to cause significant delays. First, at this police station and I am sure many others, applications are double what they were last year. Second, the Passaic County Adjuster’s Office is backed up by four months due to these increased applications as well as having their staff cut. I am in the process of helping my client cut through this red tape.
If you have been able to successfully deal with this, feel free to post a comment below. If you have run into something similar in a different county, please post that as well.
It can happen to the most experienced gun owner. For one reason or another, your firearm gets accidentally discharged. I have a few cases dealing with an accidental discharge in my office now so I thought I would cover a few issues that I have seen. Clearly, if someone has been injured, your first step is to call 911 right away. I sure hope that was beyond obvious.
Assuming no one was seriously injured, this is still a very serious situation. Of course, a lot will depend on what happened and what led to the accidental discharge. Here are a few scenarios:
-Normal gun handling
Whether its just cleaning or storing the gun, if the gun goes off in your house and just causes damage to your own property, you are probably OK even if the police come. This also assume that everything is legal. See below.
I have a case now where a gun was accidentally discharged during a domestic violence incident. This is a huge problem. The fact that it was an accident won’t have a big impact on the police. Domestic violence and guns don’t mix and even handling one for any reason during a domestic violence incident can lead to an arrest and seizure.
-Bullet leaving your house
Regardless of how the firearm was accidentally discharged, if the bullet leaves your house, you may be in for a lot of trouble. It could have killed someone and the closer you get to doing this, the more trouble you will be in. I’ve seen bullets go through one house, across the street and into another. In addition to criminal issues, you may wind up facing a civil lawsuit by the other home owner(s).
-Bullet hitting someone causing minor injury
When it comes to guns, there is no such thing as a minor injury in the eyes of the police. You could be facing arrest as well as a civil law suit. Keep in mind that the decision to arrest you may not be up to the victim.
-Bullet hitting someone causing serious injury
It is almost certain that you will be arrested her. Likewise, unless this was a family member, you will likely be sued.
As you can see, the seriousness of the situation will depend on the context in which the firearm was discharged, the people involved and the damage caused. I cannot give legal advice here, but here are a few considerations:
-You will likely be an emotional wreck
The more serious the situation, the less likely you will be capable of rational thought. Thus, hiring a lawyer ASAP may be very important. Of course, this might be impossible until you have already done some damage to your case
-You have the right to remain silent
Anything you say can be used against you in either a criminal or civil case. This doesn’t just apply to the police. Anything you say to everyone will be taken down at some point and analyzed. This is why its important to get a lawyer to get information and give information without helping to build a case against you. And no, this won’t make you look guilty. That decision was likely made before you picked up the phone and called the lawyer.
-If you give up your guns, you’ll have to fight to get them back
New Jersey has an unwritten policy that once firearms are taken, only a judge will give them back. I’m sure someone, somewhere hasn’t had to deal with this, but I think its very rare. I also don’t care what the police tell you about getting them back in a few days. They will tell you anything to calm you down.
-If you have any illegal, they will likely find it and charge you
This is the risk you take when you are not legal. If you picked up something off of the Internet or out of state that is not legal in NJ, this is the time the police will find it. Look around at your collection including your bullets. Are you sure everything is legal? Would you be OK if the police came in your house and saw everything? If the answer to that is no, you might want to think long and hard about the risk you are running.
-Don’t apologize to anyone
If a bullet hits someone else or someone else’s property, don’t apologize. You have to remember that anything you say to anyone will be used against you. An apology is an admission of guilt. It might not make sense if they already know you did it, but trust me, don’t say or do anything until your lawyer advises you to do something.
-DYFS (now DCPP) is to be feared
If there is an accidental discharge in a house with children present, DYFS may be called. DYFS really, really hates guns and they could make your life a living hell. Saying anything to them without a lawyer is very dangerous. Forget about your guns, your custody rights may be placed at risk here.
New Jersey is one of the most anti-gun states in the US. An accidental discharge is just what the police need to take away your firearms rights forever and make an example out of you by arresting you. Your reaction will help determine how this ultimately impacts you.
This is an interesting story of a bodega that was robbed. After the robber leaves, one of the victims chases after them and shoots one of them. I was asked to comment on the law of self defense and the possibilities here. Of course, I don’t have many facts and I can just go on my experience. I’m not advocating that this guy get charged or not; I’m just giving my opinion on the law. I’ve been involved in many self defense cases and right or wrong, I just don’t see how the law authorizes the victim to chase after the assailant and then use deadly force when there is no longer any threat, let alone a threat of serious injury or death.
Of course, the State may choose not to prosecute this victim because there is no public outcry and the victim may have been acting on pure adrenaline and fear, instead of just vengeance. As I said, leaving the store is tough but the robber’s horrible background helps.
Article is here:
If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to comment.
Besides doing a ton of firearms related matters, I also handle more DYFS matters than almost any other attorney in New Jersey. When DYFS (now technically known as DCPP) investigates a family, they often ask if there are any firearms in the house. Now there is nothing that requires firearms to be removed but most people give in to whatever DYFS asks. The DYFS case worker will not take possession of your guns but will be happy to help you get them out of your house. Of course, this will often involve your local police taking your firearms for “safe keeping”. Isn’t it amazing how helpful they are? Of course, once the police take your firearms, it may be impossible to get them back without a court order. Thus, before you hand over your firearms to anyone, call an attorney for advice, assuming you have enough time to make that call.
also see our child custody blog: New Jersey Child Custody Attorneys
While not a very common issue, I get a few calls a month from clients that have a prior out of state conviction. The problem with these convictions is that New Jersey can view them as felonies even if the other state views them as a misdemeanor. In New Jersey, anything punishable by more than 6 months in jail is considered a felony. In other states, it may be anything under 1 year. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what punishment you actually received. The only thing that matter is what the potential punishment was. Thus, if you got probation for a misdemeanor assault but the maximum punishment was 364 days in jail, New Jersey will consider that a felony. As a result, you will likely have big problems with your New Jersey firearms application. You should speak to an attorney in that state to see what you can do to take that conviction off of your record.
Our client was a truck driver going from one state to another when an argument started with his boss. His boss told him to meet him in New Jersey and when our client got there, he was met by the police. Apparently, our client’s boss thought there would be an incident. When the police checked the cab of the truck, they found a firearm. Since the cab of a 18 wheeler isn’t a trunk and my client didn’t have a permit to carry the gun, he was arrested and charged with second degree unlawful possession of a weapon. This used to be a minor offense but a few years ago, the law was changed. Now this offense results in a minimum 5 year prison sentence under the Graves act even for first offenders. In this case, the first plea offer did include prison time. We actually received a number of plea offers but in our opinion, the client did nothing wrong. We continued to fight and in the end, the Prosecutor voluntarily dismissed the indictment that charged the client with unlawful possession of a weapon. As a result, this was a total victory. The client didn’t even have to pay court costs.
If you are facing a charge of second degree unlawful possession of a weapon in Mercer County or any other court in New Jersey, call us today.
On August 21st, I posted about a woman that hired us for a gun permit that she applied for 2 years ago. Its now September 5th and we got it approved. If it wasn’t for the Labor Day holiday, I could have probably shaved a few days off of this case but hell, 2 weeks is a lot better than 2 years. I help so many people with gun permit applications that I can’t post about all of them, but I’ll continue to post about the crazy ones that pop up. As always, call me anytime if you think I can help you but remember, not everyone has to go through this madness. Some towns are pretty good, some are not, some change. Its different for everyone.
I’ve had plenty of people call me and say its been a year since they applied without an answer. I’ve even had people call up and say its been 18 months. Today, a client hired me and she has been waiting 2 years! It sounds pretty crazy but this is what is out there. Hopefully we can get this cleared up right away for her.
In an effort to clear up a lot of confusion, I thought I’d write a quick post to explain several issues that play no part in the decision to grant or deny a gun permit.
1. There is no difference between a purchase permit and an FID card. There is only one version of the STS-33 so it doesn’t matter if you are applying for a purchase permit, FID card, or both. The law is exactly the same for both. The only difference is the purpose of each permit. Its not easier to get one or the other.
2. It doesn’t matter why you need it. Some people seem to think that the police care why you need a gun. There is nothing in the law that allows this to play a part in the decision. Its nobody’s business why you need one gun or another. Explaining that it is for hunting or home defense will not increase your chances.
3. Training courses. The police don’t care if you are a firearms expert or if you don’t know the first thing about guns. Thus, proving that you know how to safely handle firearms or something similar will not increase your chances at all as there is nothing in the law that allows this to be considered.
4. Length of time between a previous event and now. As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn’t matter that you DWI, TRO, criminal charges, etc, etc, was from a long time ago. Most questions say “have you ever”.
5. Your opinion on the system. I realize this system sucks but unless your opinion about it isn’t really going to solve the problem or change how the police handle your application. I realize some people need to vent but others seem to want to argue about the system. You can fight to change it but until it is changed, it is what it is.
6. Character letters. Unless an attorney directs you to provide one document or another, presenting additional info is not going to help you.
I hate hearing about people getting screwed over by other attorneys and unfortunately, I hear about it quite often. Today, a client called me to say that he lost his gun permit appeal because his attorney knew nothing about gun permit appeals. You wouldn’t go to an eye doctor for foot surgery so why would you hire an attorney that knows nothing about gun permits and appeals? Well, the difference is that the eye doctor will advise you that you need a specialist while some attorneys will take anything that walks in the door because this can be a cut-throat business. I’d be happy to help you with any of your firearms issues but if you need to go with someone else, ask them to prove that they actually know what they are doing. Where is their firearms blog? Where is their NRA membership? What is their track record? Ask these questions before you get screwed over.