What is the Graves Act in New Jersey

Facing a Gun Charge in New Jersey?

Graves Act Waiver in NJOne thing is clear by now and that is the fact that New Jersey has some of the harshest gun laws in the United States. Even a permit to carry a concealed weapon in another State will not prevent someone form being charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, if it is determined they possessed a firearm in New Jersey without first obtaining a New Jersey Permit. To make matters worse, pursuant to NJSA 2C:43-6(c), anyone convicted of this offense would be subject to a mandatory minimum incarceration sentence. In other words, not only would someone be forced to serve a term of imprisonment but they would also be forced to serve a mandatory minimum term of incarceration before they could be eligible for parole. This sentencing enhancement has been known as the “Graves Act”. The Graves Act covers those charged with anyone of the following offenses:

Unlawful possession of a weapon is a second degree indictable offense in New Jersey. So, pursuant to the Graves Act, anyone convicted of this offense, at a minimum, must be sentenced to a term of incarceration of 5 years with a 3 1/2 year parole ineligibility period. That is unless a Graves Act Waiver is granted. A Graves Act Waiver can do one of several things:

  • Reduce the term of incarceration to 3 years with a 1 year parole ineligibility period;
  • Eliminate the State Prison term and allow the Defendant to be placed on probation conditioned upon a county jail term (No more than 364 days);
  • Eliminate any prison / jail term and allow the Defendant to be placed on probation;
  • Allow the Defendant to be Admitted into the Pretrial Intervention Program, which avoids not only the jail term but the felony criminal record as well.

So, as you can see, there are some potential options available that could drastically change the fate of someone facing an unlawful possession of a weapons offense in New Jersey. If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense that would be subject to the Graves Act, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer about your options. The criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver have obtained Graves Act Waivers for countless clients in more than a half of dozen counties throughout the State. If you would like to speak to one of our criminal defense attorneys today about your options, then please contact our office at 609-789-0779.

What is the Graves Act? Can I Obtain a Waiver?

The Graves Act in essence creates unforgiving penalties for those convicted of one of their enumerated offenses. It was created in an effort to try and curb gang violence and to deter those from possessing weapons. However, the act swept more individuals then those probably anticipated when the act was created. It is important to note here that ignorance to the law is not a defense to this offense. So as touched upon above, the lawful gun owner from another state, who happens to have a permit to carry in that state, is not immune to prosecution under this Act.  In an effort to cure the overreaching aspect of the Graves Act, the attorney general has issued directives over the years to create “exceptions”. With that being said, the way the law is written, the burden of proof in essence shifts from the prosecution and it is upon the defense attorney to establish that one of the “exceptions” applies. That is one of the main reasons that it is absolutely crucial that you speak to an attorney who has extensive experience obtaining Graves Act Waivers if you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Over the years, the Attorney General has instituted several directives to try and create some uniformity in how the act is used throughout the state, including when a waiver should be granted. The most recent directive came in 2014 and its main purpose was to clarify the 2008 directive with respect to lawful out-of-state gun owners whose conduct would have otherwise been lawful in their home state. This directive opens the door for an experienced criminal defense attorney to file for a Graves Act Waiver, in an effort to try and obtain admission for their client into the Pretrial Intervention Program. If the waiver is in fact granted and the person is admitted into this program, they would not only avoid incarceration but will also be able to avoid a felony criminal record as well. This is crucial, as under Federal law, a convicted felony forfeits their second amendment rights and is forbidden from ever lawful possessing a firearm.

A Graves Act Waiver is not only for those who are considered lawful gun owner from another state. A waiver can be sought out and obtained for anyone charged with one of their enumerated offenses. A waiver can be based on various different factors, including but not limited too:

  • Facts of the Case;
    • Where was the Firearm Located;
    • How / Was it being used;
    • Purpose for Possessing the Firearm;
    • Was the Firearm Loaded;
    • Were Police Immediately Notified about Presence of Firearm;
  • Strength of the State’s Case;
    • Search Issues;
    • Miranda Issues;
    • Probable Cause Issues
  • Characteristics of the Defendant;
  • Lawful Permits;
  • Defendant’s Prior Criminal History.

Mercer County Gun Defense Attorneys 

If you have been accused of possessing a gun in Mercer County or elsewhere in New Jersey, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced weapons defense attorney as soon as possible. As you can tell from reading above, the penalties can be absolutely crippling. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver, then please contact us at 609-789-0779. One of our attorney would be glad to go over the specifics of your case and we will give you our honest feedback on how we think we can be of assistance. Our office serves all of Mercer County, including East Windsor, West Windsor, Princeton, Hamilton, Lawrenceville, Ewing, Trenton, Highstown, Robbinsville and Hopewell.