What is the Graves Act in NJ?
The NJ Graves Act is a very serious law. If you are accused of violating the Graves Act, you are facing prison. Under NJ law, any crime involving a firearm will trigger “Mandatory Prison”.
Even if no one was hurt & the gun wasn’t fired or shown to anyone, simply bringing a gun to the crime can send you to prison for a long time.
Yes, guns are serious business in NJ.
What is the Purpose of the graves act in NJ?
The purpose of the Graves Act in NJ is to stop people from carrying guns. With a few exceptions, we do not have “Carrying Concealed Weapones” (CCW) permits in NJ. In NJ, if you are convicted of using or possessing a firearm while committing a crime you will have to serve a mandatory prison sentence.
It is black & white. No exceptions.
Does the NJ graves act apply if no crime happened?
Yes. Simply being in “unlawful possession” of a firearm will trigger the Graves Act in NJ.
This means that if you do not have a gun permit & are found to have a gun in your pocket, the Graves Act “Mandatory Minimums” will apply to your case.
More importantly, even if you do have a gun permit, you are only allowed to have the gun in certain places, during certain times, and in a certain way.
If you cross the any bridge or tunnel into NJ with a gun but without a NJ license for it, you can be charged with a serious crime.
The Graves Act ( N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) imposes a mandatory minimum state prison sentence for the following crimes:
Unlawful possession of a machine gun, hand gun, riffle, or shotgun;
Possession of a sawed off shotgun;
Possession of a defaced firearm;
Possession of a firearm while in the course of committing a drug distribution or possession;
Possession of certain weapons by a person previously convicted of a specified offense;
If you are convicted under New Jersey statute 2C:39-5(b), you are guilty of a second degree offense.
To learn more, read this article: “What Are The NJ Crime Degrees?”
A judge has no discretion and must send you to NJ State Prisone for a term of 5-10 years.
You cannot get parole for at least three years. This means you have to serve the minimum of three years.
If this is your second arrest, you are looking at a 5-10 years in prison with no parole.
Is there a way to avoid the graves act in NJ?
Aside from PTI & winning at trial, there are two ways to avoid the harsh punishment of the Graves Act.
If you are charged under the Graves Act in NJ you can apply to get a reduced sentence or probation.
Our job as your defense lawyers is to persuade the Prosecutor that you do not deserve to go to prison.
How do we persuade the Prosecutor that you do not deserve to go to prison?
We show them that the “Mitigating” factors outweigh the “Aggravating” factors.
What are Miigating & Aggravating factors?
An easy way to understand these terms is to think of positive & negative points. (+ & – )
Mitigating factors are positive (+) points. Aggravating factors are negative ( – ) points.
Under NJ law 2C:44-1, you can get up to 13 points of each.
If you have more positive than negative points, the chances are very good that the Prosecutor will agree to the Graves Act Waiver.
Think you can figure out if you have more positive than negative? Go for it!
Here’s the list:
Mitigating Factors: (Good for you)
You did not cause or threaten serious harm
You did not contemplate that his conduct would cause or threaten serious harm
You acted under strong provocation
There were substantial grounds to excuse or justify the defendant’s conduct, while failing to establish an actual legal defense
You have compensated or will compensate the victim or will participate in a program or community service
You have no prior criminal history
Your conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to reoccur
Your character and attitude indicate that he is unlikely to commit another offense
You will respond well to probation
Your imprisonment would entail an excessive hardship to himself or dependents
Your willingness to cooperate with law enforcement or authorities
Your conduct was substantially influenced by a person more mature than you
Aggravating Factors: (Bad for you)
The nature and circumstances of the offense
The gravity and seriousness of the harm inflicted on the victim
Risk that you will commit another crime
A lesser sentence will depreciate the seriousness of the defendant’s offense because it involved the breach of public trust
The likelihood that you are involved in organized crime
The extent of your prior criminal history
You committed the crime pursuant to some agreement for money or other incentive
You committed the crime against law enforcement
The need to deter you and others from violating the law
The crime involved fraud or deception
You committed the crime against a person who you knew or should of known was over the age of 60
The act involved domestic violence
How did you make out?
Do you think you qualify for the NJ Graves Act Waiver?
If you are facing gun charges in NJ, contact us for a Free & Confidential Consultation
What are the options If I can't get a graves act waiver in NJ?
If the NJ County Prosecutor’s office will not consent to Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or probation following a Graves Act Waiver Application, you can always take the case to trial.
If you take your case to trial, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had gun in your possession for an unlawful purpose.
The jury must convict you of two things: Unlawful Possession (1) FOR an unlawful purpose (2).
An unlawful purpose means that you had the gun on your person while you were trying to commit a crime. Typical examples include robbery or theft cases.
If you have gun possession charges just because the gun was in your car or near you, you have better chances at trial.
When all is else fails, a trial is your best option.