If you are a New Jersey resident who is facing charges regarding possession or use of a knife, it might be useful to familiarize yourself with a case from 2017. State of New Jersey v. Montalvo was a case heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court that in a narrow way expanded the self-defense rights of those who are in their own homes.
New Jersey’s knife laws are quite restrictive in comparison with many other states’ laws. New Jersey is not a state that has “castle doctrine” laws, i.e., the rights of homeowners to defend themselves in their own homes against intruders are considered rather weak.
Circumstances of the case
But in the above case, which occurred between neighbors with a beef over noise, after a couple of back-and-forth actions that escalated into the destruction of property, the defendant armed himself with a tool of his trade — a machete — when his neighbor began banging on his door.
He was originally convicted on three charges: Destruction of his neighbor’s property (a table outside of his home) and two charges for possession of the machete with which he allegedly answered the door. The defendant claimed he thought his neighbor had a gun and he was trying to protect his pregnant wife.
Basis of the Supreme Court’s ruling
In making their ruling, the justices took into account that an individual’s right to self-defense is broader when they are in their own homes and that even if the carrying of such a knife would be illegal on the street, if a person reasonably believes there is an imminent threat, they may spontaneously arm themselves.
Could this case impact your own court case?
It’s possible. Weapons charges are always complicated — and serious. By working closely with your criminal defense attorney, you can devise the best defense against the charges you face.