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What does illegal discharge of a weapon mean in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, the illegal discharge of a weapon is a serious offense. It occurs when someone fires a firearm, air gun or any other type of weapon unlawfully within the state’s boundaries.

New Jersey statutes explicitly prohibit the reckless or negligent discharge of firearms in areas where such actions pose a threat to public safety. This includes firing a weapon in residential neighborhoods, near schools, parks or other public places where people may be present.

Potential consequences

About 14.7% of New Jersey adults have a gun. The illegal discharge of such a weapon can bring serious consequences. These can include fines, imprisonment or both, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and any resulting harm or damage caused.


Each case is unique and may present different circumstances. However, defenses could include self-defense, being unaware that someone else loaded the weapon or accidental discharge.

Accidental discharge of a firearm can occur due to various factors. They include negligent handling, mishandling while cleaning, misfire due to mechanical failure, improper storage and unintentional trigger manipulation.

For example, if someone drops a loaded firearm and it discharges upon impact with the ground, that is negligent handling. Unintentional trigger manipulation can occur with inexperienced users or individuals unfamiliar with the specific firearm. They may accidentally discharge it by unintentionally applying pressure to the trigger while handling the weapon.

Illegal discharge of a weapon can induce significant stress and anxiety. In addition to legal repercussions, people may experience social stigma or judgment from others. It is helpful to understand the law if you are facing such charges.