STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF C.L.H.'S WEAPONSA-0072-14T2
The State appeals from a final order of the Family Part denying its motion to have C.L.H. forfeit five illegal assault rifles, among other weapons, and his firearms purchaser identification card seized pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991.
Following the entry of a temporary restraining order against C.L.H.'s wife arising out of a domestic violence complaint brought by her eighty-one-year-old father, the police seized the weapons from the couple's home pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-28j. While the forfeiture action was pending, C.L.H. advised the prosecutor he was transferring the confiscated weapons to a licensed firearms dealer pursuant to the 2013 gun amnesty law. The Family Part determined that because C.L.H. was not a defendant in the domestic violence case, and the guns were seized solely because of a restraining order against C.L.H.'s wife, not allowing him to take advantage of the gun amnesty law was "not equitable."
The panel reversed, concluding the court erred in determining the gun amnesty law applied because the weapons were in the possession of the prosecutor on the law's effective date. Instead it held that because the five assault firearms were seized pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and cannot be returned to C.L.H. under the Domestic Violence Forfeiture Statute as they are contraband under N.J.S.A. 2C:64- 1a(1), C.L.H. is expressly disqualified from obtaining a handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card under the Gun Control Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c(8), and thus from regaining possession of his remaining firearms and his firearms purchaser identification card held by the prosecutor.