Articles Posted in Weapons Offenses

Voir dire, which means “to speak the truth” in French, also refers to the examination of prospective jurors to determine whether or not they are suitable for jury service. During this jury selection process, a judge may ask standard questions to excuse anyone deemed incapable of serving on a jury. Attorneys involved in the case may also question the jurors to identify any potential biases. If any such biases are suspected, the attorneys may request to remove the biased jurors or exercise a peremptory challenge to exclude those jurors from the trial.

However, some questions asked during this process are likely to create rather than reveal partiality within prospective jurors.

In State v. Leo T. Little, Jr. , the Defendant sought to challenge his convictions for aggravated assault and weapons offenses on the ground that voir dire questioning by the trial court of prospective jurors during jury selection deprived him of a fair trial.

Yes, if the court conducts a thorough analysis of the factors listed in United States v. Burton and those factors favor denial of Defendant’s request.

In March of this year the New Jersey Supreme Court dealt with this very issue in the context of a murder trial.  In State v. Luis Maisonet, the Defendant’s request for a new attorney was summarily denied by the trial court.  The record presented a dearth of facts regarding the Burton factors.  Nonetheless, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that it could glean sufficient information from the record to analyze the Burton factors in a fashion that militated against the Defendant.

Before conducting its analysis the Court explained that the major considerations any trial court should contemplate are those of the Defendant’s constitutional right to obtain counsel of his choice, the court’s right to control its own calendar and the public’s interest in the orderly administration of justice.

New Jersey has some of the strictest and most complex firearms laws in the United States.  Often times, prospective clients have questions related to their right to bear arms within our State.  This article endeavors to touch upon some issues that arise as considerations for New Jersey residents.

Is a replica air soft gun (sold at Dick’s sporting goods) a “Firearm” under New Jersey Law?

No, because air soft guns do not fire a solid projectile as required by the statute.  N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(f.) defines firearm as – means any handgun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, automatic or semi-automatic rifle, or any gun, device or instrument in the nature of a weapon from which may be fired or ejected any solid projectable ball, slug, pellet, missile or bullet, or any gas, vapor or other noxious thing, by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igniting of flammable or explosive substances. It shall also include, without limitation, any firearm which is in the nature of an air gun, spring gun or pistol or other weapon of a similar nature in which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed or other gas or vapor, air or compressed air, or is ignited by compressed air, and ejecting a bullet or missile smaller than three-eighths of an inch in diameter, with sufficient force to injure a person.

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