What Happens If You Use an Illegal Gun to Defend Yourself in New Jersey?

In instances where a defendant proves they hurt someone out of self-preservation, they can plead for self-defense. However, what happens if the gun they used to defend themself was illegal? Many firearms are not permitted for civilian use and have been outlawed, meaning that those who are found to have used them can be severely punished. To understand this unusual legal puzzle, here is everything you need to know about using illegal guns in self-defense.

What Is Classified as an Illegal Gun?

Before understanding the ramifications of using an illegal gun for self-defense, it is important to consider what guns are unlawful. You may own an illegal firearm without realizing it, resulting in costly fines. The state of New Jersey forbids ownership of semi-automatic rifles that come equipped with military features, such as silencers. Over 50 specific brands and similar models have been banned and deemed illegal.

Some firearms may be legal to own but are still considered unlawful possession under certain circumstances. Not holding a license for rifles, handguns, and other kinds of guns, for example, can result in expensive fines and penalties. Additionally, certain individuals are not permitted to own guns, such as those with prior convictions, and will be fined and imprisoned if caught with a firearm.

When Is It Okay to Use a Gun in Self Defense?

Next, it is crucial to know the conditions that make self-defense with a firearm legal in New Jersey. Unlike other states, New Jersey does not have a Stand Your Ground law, meaning citizens have a duty to retreat from an aggressor before relying on deadly force, such as a firearm, to protect themselves from harm.

Another instance that firearms can be used in self-defense is when the Castle Doctrine is in play. This historic law grants homeowners a right to protect themselves and their families from assailants that enter their homes and threaten their well-being, so long as the homeowner was not the individual who initiated the fight. 

What Happens When Using an Illegal Gun for Self Defense?

With knowledge of the factors pertaining to illegal guns and when it is legal to use lethal force in self-defense, one can understand the probable repercussions of using an illegal gun, even in the act of defending oneself. In numerous states, the legality of the firearm used for lethal force may not be taken into account. However, the defendant’s possession of an illegal gun may be detrimental to their credibility, making their claim of self-defense more difficult for their attorney to prove.

Even if an individual who used an illegal gun for self-defense is acquitted, they will not be free from charges. As demonstrated earlier, admission of owning and using an illegal firearm has grave repercussions in New Jersey and other locations in the United States for that matter. Therefore, you will still face punishment for breaking laws pertaining to illegal guns even if the self-defense you utilized them in was justified.

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