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At Proetta & Oliver we tend to get a lot of questions with regard to an unlawful possession of a weapon charge, especially when they involve a lawfully purchased and owned firearm from another state. New Jersey as a whole but especially Mercer County tends to see a lot of these types of cases, which is probably do in large part to the fact that Mercer County is so close to Pennsylvania.
What if I Lawfully Owned the Gun in Another State?
The unfortunate part is that New Jersey does not honor another states license to own a firearm, not even a permit to carry. In addition to that, New Jersey in essence has a strict liability policy when it comes to the unlawful possession of a weapon offenses. In other words, if someone is caught possessing a lawfully owned firearm from another state in New Jersey, regardless of the licenses or permits, they will be charged with this offense.
This offense falls under what is known as the Graves Act. The Graves Act was created by the legislature basically in an effort to try and curb gang violence. It not only requires a mandatory state prison sentence but it also requires a mandatory parole ineligibility period as well. So, since this offense is considered a second degree felony, the best plea offer someone could receive is a five year prison term with a forty-two month parole ineligibility period.
One of the main problems with the Graves Act is the wording of the act itself. It does not create any exceptions for those who lawfully own the weapon in another state. That is unless a Graves Act Waiver is granted. The courts have allowed for what is known as a Graves Act Waiver, that is provided defense counsel can establish that their client fits into one of their loopholes. These waivers can become very difficult to achieve but if they are granted, the prison time and parole ineligibility period may be either reduced and in some cases eliminated. For more information on Grave Act Waivers, please see below.
What is the Bail Range on a Gun Charge in New Jersey?
To make matters worse, the bail system changed in New Jersey in January of 2017. The bail reform in essence removed monetary bails and instituted what amounts to a risk assessment analysis. This system is modeled off the Federal system. By doing, they also opened the door for the prosecution to be able to detain someone in the county jail, pending trial without bail. Unfortunately, this tends to be one of those offenses that more often than not, a detention tends to be sought.
With that being said, anyone who finds themselves in this situation has the ability to challenge said dentition at what is known as a Detention Hearing. During this hearing the burden is on the prosecution to establish by clear and convincing evidence that in order to protect society, assure the Defendant’s appearance in court or to prevent them from obstructing the prosecution of their case, they must be detained without bail. These hearings can and always should be contested. For more information on detention hearings, please feel free to call our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779. One of our Mercer County criminal defense lawyers will be glad to go over what a detention hearing is and how we can be of assistance.
What is the Graves Act? Can I get a Waiver?
With that all being said, our attorneys fully understand the nightmare of a situation that some tend to find themselves in when they are simply driving through the state and they are arrested for possessing a lawfully owned weapon from another state. All to often we field inquires from potential clients who either lawfully own a weapon in another state or those who even have a permit to carry a weapon in another state that find themselves now facing not only mandatory jail time but a parole ineligibility period as well. The vast majority of these situations stem from a routine motor vehicle stop that spans into either an admission from the client about the fact their is a weapon located in the vehicle or a subsequent search that reveals same. Regardless of the underlying situation, it is crucial that you speak to any experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At Proetta & Oliver we can not only seek to attack the underlying search and seizure that lead to the discovery of the weapon or we can prepare for and argue a Graves Act Waiver. Over the years our attorneys have been able to secure numerous Graves Act Waivers, including waivers whereby the client was able to be accepted into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). PTI is a diversionary program in New Jersey, whereby if the Defendant successfully completes the probationary term, without violating any of the terms, the charges will be outright dismissed. So, not only have our clients been able to avoid state prison but a felony criminal record as well. These waivers are very fact sensitive, that is why we strongly recommend that if you have found yourself in this type of situation that you speak to an attorney who has a lot of experience dealing with these types of cases. For more information on the Graves Act, and how the prosecution is instructed to deal with certain types of cases checkout the New Jersey Attorney General’s 2014 directive by clicking the link.
Mercer County NJ Gun Lawyer
Proetta & Oliver fully comprehend the nightmare that most go through when they learn the severity of this offense. The stress and anxiety can be overwhelming but we feel that once you hire an attorney who has experience dealing with these specific cases and then can guide you through the nuances, some of the stress can be relieved. Based on the severity of these types of offenses, we believe that having continuity with one attorney is what is not only deserved but necessary in order to achieve a favorable outcome. So unlike what tends to happen at larger firms, at Proetta & Oliver your file will not simply be assigned to whoever is free to cover the cases that particular day. At our office, your file will be personally handled by Mr. Oliver, one of the firms founding partners.
Mr. Oliver takes a tremendous amount of pride in making sure that his clients are informed every step of the way. All of his clients are given is personal cell phone number so that they can reach him at any point in time, something that is extremely rare in this profession. Throughout his career he has been able to successfully achieve numerous Graves Act Waivers and has seen numerous clients, including non-citizens, be accepted into the Pretrial Intervention Program. If you would like to sit down with Mr. Oliver and go over the specific facts of your case and see how can be of assistances, then please contact our Hamilton office directly at 609-789-0779. For some of our recent successes stories when it comes to unlawful possession of a weapons offense, please click the links provided below.
State v. H.G – This was a case where Mr. Oliver had a client who was arrested for driving while intoxicated and unlawful possession of a loaded weapon. The Defendant was not a United States citizen. He was accepted into the PTI program and was able to avoid a criminal record. For more information on this case, please click the above link.
State v. Aaron Williams – This was a case where the Defendant was granted a waiver of a three years New Jersey State Prison with a one year parole ineligibility period. At the time of sentencing, the Judge granted a downward departure and sentenced Mr. Oliver’s client to five years probation. The State appealed the sentence and Mr. Oliver appealed the denial of a suppression motion. The appellate division affirmed the case and our client avoided incarceration, even after motions were filed. For more information on this case, please click the link above.
State v. B.N – In this case, our client was a lawful gun owner and had a permit to carry out New York. He was stopped for a routine traffic stop and when questioned, admitted he had said weapon in the trunk, not thinking he was doing anything wrong. He to was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of hallow point bullets. The Defendant was accepted into the Pretrial Intervention Program and after one year, the charges were dismissed.