Domestic Violence Charges? Will You Need to Forfeit Weapons?
What started off as an exchange of verbal barbs, can get very ugly. In fact, a nasty dispute with an intimate partner could land you in court. What if your actions result in domestic violence charges? Will you need to forfeit your weapons?
All things considered, giving up your firearms may seem ridiculous to you. Sure, you said that you wanted to kill your wife. After all, she was unfaithful. However, you merely engaged in a war of words. Things get so loud that the police were called to the scene. Suddenly, you found yourself charged with making terroristic threats.
If you really meant physical harm, you might understand. Of course, the challenge will be proving that you only spoke in a jealous rage. Meanwhile, terroristic threats are considered a predicate act of domestic violence. You might want to consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney to see what can happen next.
Domestic Violence and Weapons
For starters, law enforcement authorities follow a particular protocol when called to a scene that potentially involves domestic violence. What about when it involves weapons? According to NJSA 2C:25-21, police can arrest someone on the spot for using a weapon in the commission of an act of domestic violence.
Although all firearms are considered weapons under New Jersey law, so are different types of knives. When it comes down to it, a weapon is “anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury.” The potential is limitless.
Without question, anyone who uses a handgun or switchblade to hurt an intimate partner will be arrested. Meanwhile, their weapons will also be confiscated. Notwithstanding, there’s more.
For example, there is the idea of threatening someone with a firearm without actually using one. The police will ask if there are weapons on the premises. It could be that you’re an avid hunter and have legal access to guns. The fact that you store them under lock and key may be of no consequence.
Even if your weapons were not used to commit an act of domestic violence, they could be seized for the potential risk they pose to the victim. To take it a step further, you may also need to turn over your firearm purchaser identification card or permit to purchase a handgun.
One thing more. If a temporary or restraining order is placed against you, you are expected to turn in your weapons. The judge will most likely include this directive as part of the restraints in accordance with NJSA 2C:25-26 and NJSA 2C:25-28.
Ultimately, the county prosecutor’s office becomes the caretaker of all weapons and identification cards collected in conjunction with domestic violence. The Prosecutor’s Office takes the next steps as far as formal forfeiture proceedings.
Return of Seized Weapons
As far as you’re concerned, the nightmare needs to stop. You have no intentions of using your hands or anything else to hurt your wife. In fact, you hope never to see her again until it’s time to show up for the divorce.
Meanwhile, you only have a couple of weeks until the annual hunting trip. More than ever, you need the time with your buddies. However, there’s no reason to go if you don’t have access to your rifle. How do you get your guns back?
First, there is the matter of the restraining order. If one is entered against you, there’s a good chance that you won’t have access to seized weapons. In any event, the Prosecutor’s office still needs to move for a forfeiture hearing in court. This must be done within forty-five days of receipt of your weapons.
The Prosecutor’s office will review the domestic violence complaint, as well as the entry of any restraining orders. The purpose of the hearing will be to determine if your weapons can be returned to you. In reality, in some circumstances, the goal may be to seek a court order that does just the opposite. It may seem justifiable to ensure you don’t have access to firearms. In fact, the Prosecutor could seek a court order that prohibits you from possessing or purchasing guns in the future.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have many years of experience handling domestic violence cases. We can provide you with legal advice concerning your personal situation. Contact us to schedule an appointment.