Recently, the New Jersey Legislature elevated unlawful possession of a handgun to second degree crime. The presumptive sentence for a second degree felony is between five and ten years imprisonment. The crime bars possession of handguns in public or in cars without a permit to own or carry the weapon.

More important, the statute rejects pretrial intervention (PTI) or intense supervision (ISP) in handgun cases.

Rifles and shotguns are generally eliminated from the mandatory jail penalties unless they are assault weapons.

Because the penalty for unlawful possession of a handgun is so draconian, an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical at the earliest stage of the case before the prosecutor presents the charge to the Grand Jury.