Weapons on School Property
October 11, 2018
At the end of the 2018 school year, two Lakewood, New Jersey students were charged with bringing a loaded gun to school. The students were immediately apprehended, no threats of violence were made, and no one was injured. However, when a child brings a weapon to school, the story does not always end well. Many people think that only high school students bring guns and other weapons to school. This is not the case and weapon offenses have occurred at:
- Elementary Schools
- Middle schools
- School Events
New Jersey Weapons on School Grounds Penalties
New Jersey takes weapons offenses very seriously. According to state law, a firearm has a broad definition that includes any gun, device, or instrument that can be fired, eject a solid object, or emit gas or vapors. Even for those carrying gun permits, firearms and other weapons are strictly prohibited in any educational setting, including school grounds, school vehicles, and school sponsored events.
New Jersey’s unlawful possession of weapons statute makes it clear that those in violation of this law can be charged with third or fourth degree crimes, resulting in:
- Permanent felony charges
- Up to 18 months in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Although the penalties for weapons offenses apply to both adults and juveniles, those under 18 are usually tried in juvenile court. Courts that handle minors have the intention of rehabilitating them instead of punishing them. Rehabilitation might consist of community service, mandatory attendance in other support programs, or boot camp. However, this is not a guarantee and depending on the nature of the circumstances, juveniles can be tried as an adult. Any minor who faces a weapons offense charge should seek the representation of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer.
Mandatory Expulsion Policy
In addition to criminal charges, students who bring weapons to school face additional consequences. In New Jersey, if a student is found in possession of a firearm on school property, they will be removed from school for a period of one year. Juveniles will then be placed into an alternative education program or be ordered to receive home instruction.
At the end of the school year, schools must follow a careful process to ensure the child is ready to return to the mainstream educational system. This includes:
- Testing and other assessments
- Evaluation of the nature and severity of the offense
- Recommendations from the principal or director of the current alternate program
However, special education students and those in school up to second grade will face lesser penalties.
Camden County Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gossé Defends Juveniles Charged with Weapons Offenses
If your child has been charged with a weapons offense or any other crime, it is important that you have a juvenile defense attorney to navigate you and your child through the legal system. A Camden County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gossé is experienced in all facets of criminal law and can help clients obtain the best possible outcome. With an office in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, we assist clients in Camden County and Burlington County. Contact us today at 856-546-6600 or contact us online for a free consultation.