Does a misplaced license impact your ability to carry in New Jersey? Yes. New Jersey strictly controls the possession of any handgun outside of exempted locations “without first having obtained a permit to carry the same [handgun]” or else he or she “is guilty of a crime of the second degree.” N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-5b.
MORE DETAILS ON THE STATUE
The statute requires only that you “obtained a permit to carry”—not possessed one— at the time. While your Independent Program Attorney may be able to defend you and negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor that your possession was lawful because of this fact, that is only after you’ve spent months in the justice system after likely being arrested and charged for being unable to produce a permit at the time of possession. There is no published case law which clearly delineates whether “obtains” is distinguishable from “possesses” in this particular context at the time of this writing, which means you would be a “test case” on this matter if you decided to take it to trial and gamble on the jury seeing it your way.
Without having your permit to carry on your person, the law enforcement officer cannot determine the legality of your possession in the moment or whether the firearm possessed is the same one permitted. By the same token, New Jersey does not have a statutory “duty to inform” law enforcement of the presence, possession, or permit for firearms. You are not required to volunteer the information for them to check against a database in the moment. However, be warned: no “duty to inform” does not mean permission to deceive. If asked, lying can result in an arrest and conviction for hindering or obstruction. However, you always have the right to remain silent or refuse to answer questions.
Accordingly, if you find yourself unable to locate your license or if your license has expired, it is prudent to suspend carrying or transporting your weapon until your replacement can be furnished. Under New Jersey gun law, one is presumed not to be licensed unless one proves that he or she is licensed.
If you have any questions about replacing your carry permit or how to deal with law enforcement, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
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