Is Pepper Spray Legal in New Jersey?

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Asking, “Is pepper spray legal in New Jersey?” can help you decide if it’s available for civilian use.

Self-defense has never been more important than it is today, and ensuring you’re prepared is of the utmost importance.

With the benefits of pepper spray, it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t be legal to use across the United States.

Allow me to guide you through the specific laws for using pepper spray in New Jersey.

Also, we’ll take a look at a couple of other common self-defense weapons.

General Pepper Spray Restrictions in New Jersey

It’s important to remember that pepper spray isn’t designed to cause permanent injury to the attacker.

With that said, there are very few restrictions on pepper spray use in the state.

In general, there are two specific things to abide by:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have a clean criminal record

If these two restrictions aren’t adhered to, you risk the likelihood of facing criminal charges.

It’s also essential to consider when and how you use the pepper spray, as it could also lead to charges.

We’ll explore this concept in further detail below.

It’s important to reiterate that neither pepper spray nor mace is illegal in New Jersey.

Although they aren’t completely harmless, they’re non-lethal alternatives and treated differently from guns.

With that said, you should be able to find pepper spray for purchase in-person or online in New Jersey at an assortment of retailers.

As long as you’re 18 years of age and do not have any weapon restrictions on your record, you can purchase self-defense sprays.

Additionally, it’s not illegal to carry it with you, whether private or public.

Is Pepper Spray Considered a Weapon?

Technically, pepper spray is considered a weapon by New Jersey law.

A weapon is loosely defined as any item “capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury. This includes any weapon or device that projects, releases, or emits tear gas or any other substance intended to produce temporary physical discomfort.

When thinking about how self-defense sprays are dispensed, it’s easy to see how they are classified as weapons like tear gas.

You’ll be discharging a compound of cayenne pepper into an assailant’s face, causing visual and respiratory distress.

This physical discomfort helps you escape dangerous situations or subdue an attacker to be arrested.

What’s most interesting about New Jersey law is that a specific section explains how pepper spray is different from other weapons.

With this section in mind, you can carry the device under certain circumstances without violating the law.

It’s important to ensure that you use the self-defense tool appropriately and in the right circumstance, or you could be faced with disorderly person offenses.

is pepper spray legal in new jersey state

What Are the Requirements for Carrying and Using Pepper Spray in New Jersey?

Let’s jump into the specific requirements you must follow if you intend to purchase, carry, and use pepper spray in New Jersey.


The first restriction is that every person in possession of pepper spray must be at least 18 years of age.

This rule applies to similar devices that discharge a compound designed to cause temporary physical distress.

Previous Convictions

One of the more apparent restrictions of owning human pepper spray in the state is that you must not have any prior convictions.

If you have been convicted of a crime, being in possession of pepper spray violates your parole. If caught, you can face serious consequences.

Reasons for Use

Every resident’s responsibility is to ensure they use pepper spray in appropriate situations.

With that said, you have to agree only to use the spray in cases of personal self-defense.

One common mistake of individuals I’ve encountered as a law enforcer is that they use it against a non-aggressive person or casually, which is illegal.


Regulating the amount of pepper spray that New Jersey residents can carry is essential.

Otherwise, we might find some people having far too much on their person that could cause significant damage.

To legally carry human-formula pepper spray in the state, you must not have more than 3/4 of an ounce of product in a container.

Bodily Injury

There’s no doubt that pepper spray is specifically designed to incapacitate attackers.

However, it cannot be a guaranteed formulation to cause serious or imminent injury.

As an example, your pepper spray must fall within the legal concentration.

When sprayed, pepper spray is expected to cause visual and respiratory distress.

It should not be so powerful as to maim or cause permanent injury to the attacker.

Otherwise, this could fall outside the realm of self-defense, and you could face significant penalties.

Method of Dispersion

When you use pepper spray for the first time, you’ll find it has a unique dispersion method.

Most sprays are vaporized, causing the chemical compounds to float through the air.

Other types of pepper spray have a gel-like consistency, allowing you to shoot it further distances.

With that said, in New Jersey, your pepper spray must be activated through vaporization.

Alternatively, it can be activated by other methods of being dispersed through the air.

This rule helps to ensure that you’re using an approved and legal device to discharge the spray.

Can I Be Sued if I Use Pepper Spray on Someone Else?

Although it is legal for you to purchase, carry, and use pepper spray in moments of self-defense in New Jersey, there are some catches.

When browsing the state’s penal code, three significant issues could arise which are important to consider.

Let’s take a deep dive into these additional restrictions to pepper spray laws.

Federal and Local Laws

All of the pepper spray laws in New Jersey apply to the state.

However, there are also local and federal laws to consider, even for law enforcement agencies.

With that said, you may find several areas where you can’t carry pepper spray based on federal regulations.

It’s known that churches, courthouses, schools, and correctional facilities prohibit the carry and use of compact pepper spray, even for self-defense purposes.

Essentially, most sensitive venues and areas don’t allow you to carry pepper sprays, such as sporting events and concerts.

Always ensure you double-check the local laws and regulations before investing in defensive sprays.

Carrying and Using Pepper Spray

Most non-lethal weapon laws focus on where it can be carried rather than specifying how it can be used.

This issue leaves a door open for you to be charged with simple assault, depending on the situation.

Other offenses could apply, so you must only use gel sprays in sure-fire self-defense cases.

Civil Suits

As with any method of self-defense, it’s important to consider the legal standing the other party has.

If pepper spray gel is used improperly, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be facing a civil suit and criminal charges.

However, where the laws are also slightly concerning is in situations where pepper spray is used legally.

Unfortunately, you could still face legal troubles if the other party decides to take the issue to court.

Although this is unlikely due to the cost and time required to go through the process, it is possible.

You can circumvent this concern by working with your insurance company to get a policy that covers negligent activities.

Additionally, the opposition needs to have a strong case to bring it to court.

In self-defense cases, you likely have a stronger leg to stand on.

It can also be beneficial to have witnesses to the event as an extra backup or a report from the police department.

The Legality of Pepper Spray in New Jersey

If you’re wondering, “Is pepper spray legal in New Jersey?” the answer is yes, in self-defense.

However, it doesn’t change that you could face a civil suit if the aggressor decides to take it to court.

You aren’t likely to be penalized as long as you lawfully purchase, carry, and discharge the spray.

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