New Jersey Gun Convictions Carry Mandatory Prison Sentences Under the Graves Act

New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.  Amendments to the laws in New Jersey in 2008 made them even more strict by imposing mandatory jail sentences for simple possession of an illegal firearm even if it was not being used for an unlawful purpose.  If you violate a gun law in New Jersey, you may be subject to some pretty serious penalties.  A conviction for any type weapons charge can potentially send you to jail or prison, remain on your permanent record for the rest of your life, and can inhibit you from obtaining gainful employment.   A conviction for a firearms charge is even more serious.  New Jersey gun laws increase the penalty for people who possess or use an illegal firearm.  In New Jersey gun possession can even include having a gun in New Jersey that would have been legal for the person to have in their own State.   The New Jersey Attorney General has even issued guidelines to Prosecutors on how to handle these cases.   Possession of a gun in New Jersey by an out of state resident is a very fact sensitive issue, that could result in prison time for the person.  New Jersey Gun Laws are complex and extensive, and you should consult with an experienced attorney right away if you are charged with a firearms offense.

One of the laws in New Jersey regarding possession of firearms is known as the Graves Act.

What is the Graves Act?

The statute that covers the unlawful or illegal use of a firearm is known as the “Graves Act,” and includes the sentencing law N.J.S.A. 43-6(c).  This statute along with other provisions in New Jersey Criminal Laws including the Graves Act requires a mandatory state prison sentence if you are convicted of various offenses including:

  • Unlawful possession of a handgun, machine gun, rifle, or shotgun;
  • Possession of a defaced gun, (which is a gun with its serial number purposely removed);
  • Possession of a sawed-off shotgun, ( a shotgun with a shorter barrel that can be much easier concealed than a regular shotgun);
  • Possession of any firearm in the commission of a drug crime (including possession); and
  • Possession of a firearm and you were previously convicted of a specific crime.

These laws often require a minimum of 5 years in jail with a mandatory 3 years to be served without parole.  Many firearms offenses could include an even longer sentence.

In some instances, an individual who is charged with one of the above gun crimes may avoid jail time, or reduce the minimum time that must be served in jail.  If the Prosecutor’s Office is willing to consent, the defendant in rare cases may be eligible for Pre-trial Intervention or probation.  An experienced attorney will review with you ways document “compelling reasons” that can be presented to the Prosecutor to consider Pre-Trial Intervention.  Those compelling reasons must be shown for a Prosecutor to even consider admittance into Pre-Trial Intervention, and it is a very difficult result to obtain.

In addition, the defendant may also have the opportunity for a Grave’s Act Waiver.  This Waiver could potentially reduce parole eligibility for the defendant, from three years to one year.  Like Pre-trial Intervention the Graves Act Waiver must also have the Prosecutor’s consent.  While these alternative options may be on the table for a defendant, they will be considered with all mitigating and aggravating circumstances that surround the gun charge(s).

If you have been charged with a gun crime in New Jersey, it is important that you seek the help of an attorney.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and options.

If you need strong legal representation with a matter related to personal injury, medical malpractice, criminal defense, workers’ compensation, or SSD, contact Shebell & Shebell LLC today to schedule a consultation.