Gun Seizure/Forfeiture in Domestic Violence Cases in NJ
On November 21, 2016, the New Jersey Legislature approved a bill that will give local law enforcement more power to confiscate weapons from anyone who is subject to a domestic violence restraining order or who has been convicted of a domestic violence offense. According to officials, Governor Chris Christie now needs to review the bill to determine whether or not to sign the legislation into law.
Currently, New Jersey gun owners are already required to surrender their firearms if they are convicted of a domestic violence offense or are subject to a restraining order. The new bill would require those accused of domestic abuse to testify that they do not possess any firearms or that they already surrendered their firearms.
New Jersey’s current gun and domestic violence laws permit NJ authorities to seize weapons from an accused aggressor of domestic abuse when there is probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed and that weapons expose the victim to a risk of serious bodily injury. N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21(d)(1)(a) and (b). In fact, in New Jersey, a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) not only protects the victim from the alleged aggressor, but also serves as a warrant that permits the authorities to search a defendant’s home and seize any firearms and the defendant’s firearms purchaser identification card. Moreover, even if for some reason law enforcement is not able to take possession of the defendant’s firearms at first, temporary restraining orders typically include a provision that states, “a failure to comply with the directive to surrender all weapons, firearms permits, applications or identification cards may constitute criminal contempt pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(b).”
The legislation recently approved by the NJ Senate and the NJ Assembly adds another layer to the protections offered by restraining orders, requiring defendants to also attest that they either do not possess firearms or have already surrendered their firearms to law enforcement. At the end of the day, the public policy is clear that anyone who perpetrates domestic violence will not be permitted to possess a firearm – and this new legislation simply adds an additional protection.
Need Help – My Guns were Seized after a Restraining Order in NJ
However, the fact remains that anyone who has been accused of domestic violence and who is facing a restraining order may not understand the full ramifications of a final restraining order. That’s why it is imperative that they contact a knowledge criminal defense attorney.