Civil Search Warrants, Guns, Drugs & Domestic Violence in New Jersey
I’ve written many articles on the unlawful possession of guns and firearms in New Jersey along with the illegal possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in the Garden State as well. Drug and gun crimes range in their severity from crimes of the 1st to the 4th degrees. There are even some drug crimes in New Jersey which are graded as disorderly persons offenses (non-indictable). Like any possessory crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person has either actual or constructive possession of the contraband in question.
Police Searches For Guns & Drugs
While police often discover contraband following a traffic stop, vehicle search, or even a home search, the circumstances surrounding the initiation of these searches vary greatly.
It’s important to keep in mind that while police don’t need a warrant to search a vehicle if they probable cause, (warrantless searches) they do require a warrant to search a home, place of business, or other dwelling. The expectation of privacy is higher in a residence than in a vehicle.
Domestic Violence Searches In New Jersey (Civil Search Warrants)
Domestic violence is an issue in New Jersey and in every part of the country including Pennsylvania where our criminal defense law firm also practices. If a person believes that a person with whom they maintain a relationship presents an immediate threat to their safety, he or she can apply for a temporary restraining order (TRO). If the accused person is served with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) they must appear for a Final Restraining Order hearing (FRO) or the court will enter a 3 year order which will cause them to lose the right to possess firearms or guns, alter their child custody arrangement, and even their personal residence status.
Restraining Orders & Guns in New Jersey
Once a TRO is granted law enforcement will serve a copy of it on the defendant which will explain the basis of the complaint and indicate the date of the FRO hearing. In addition, if a municipal court judge determines that a defendant in a TRO possesses or has access to weapons or firearms, they will be ordered to relinquish control of those firearms to law enforcement immediately. The TRO also permits police to search for these weapons based on the alleged victims’ statements (Civil Search Warrants).
It is very important to understand that a civil search warrant granted as part of a TRO must still be based on probable cause which is a reasonable belief that an individual maintains or has possession of a gun or a firearm. As I have written before, probable cause is based on several factors (totality of the circumstances analysis) and there is no exact formula for it. Reasonable suspicion is a lower form of probable cause but not enough to grant a search warrant. Probable cause is the reasonable belief, based on everything that a judge hears, that a crime is or was committed.
The Right to Seize Weapons & Guns
Police have a right to seize weapons under a TRO/FRO pursuant to NJSA 2C: 25-21d. Following this seizure, the weapons will be delivered to the county prosecutors office until the civil matter is resolved.
Finally, understand that in New Jersey it is much more difficult to even own a gun or firearm. The Garden State requires a license to even possess a firearm unlike Pennsylvania which only requires a permit to carry. A permit to carry in New Jersey is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. New Jersey may revoke a firearms identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, or any permit related to the use, possession, or ownership of a weapon if it determines that an owner poses a threat in general or even to a particular person. This can occur regardless of the outcome of a TRO or FRO (See NJSA 2C: 58-3f, 2C: 58-4f, and 2C: 58-5).
For more information on your gun and weapons rights as they pertain to a restraining order in New Jersey and other civil actions please contact our law firm.
Contact Our Criminal Defense and Domestic Violence Lawyers in PA & NJ
For more information on hiring our domestic violence and criminal defense law firm in Pennsylvania or New Jersey to defend you if you are charged with a violent felony or misdemeanor contact our office.
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