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Union County

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our Law Firm Has Successfully Handled Thousands of Criminal, DWI, and Municipal Court Charges Throughout Union County and New Jersey

– William A. Proetta

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The New Jersey Graves Act

The Graves Act was amended in 2008, which widened its net from only defendants who used a gun in the commission of a crime such as Robbery, Burglary, or Aggravated Assault to now basically any act of possessing a weapon unlawfully. This now includes possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a firearm. This expansion has far more reaching effects then it appears and has caused quite a bit more collateral damage than legislatures most likely originally intended. For example, until recently it was unclear whether or not the Graves Act applied to unlawful possession of a BB gun – a convoluted crime few people are aware of. Federal law allows a person (18 years or older) to buy a BB gun, air gun, or pellet pistol, but under New Jersey law, BB guns are considered real firearms. Therefore, defendants can unknowingly find themselves in a very precarious position if they are stopped and have a airgun pistol on them without a firearms ID card, although recent amends to the law allows defendants to avoid mandatory incarceration for unlawful BB gun possession. Another catch is that the Graves Act applies to individuals who legally purchased and own guns registered in another state and cross into New Jersey with those guns. These examples often occur with law-abiding citizens who are not aware of New Jersey’s laws and travel through the state or come here on vacation or business with a gun in their car. At the Proetta & Oliver we are experienced in handling weapon and firearm cases involving the Graves Act. Our attorneys will challenge the state’s case against you and work with the prosecution to secure a downgrade or waiver of the Graves Act. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, then contact our office at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced weapon defense lawyer.

Graves Act Law

Under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c), the Graves Act requires the imposition of a minimum term of imprisonment and parole ineligibility for certain gun-related crimes. However, following that amendment, the list of offenses that are now subject to the “Graves Act” was significantly expanded and now includes a number of possessory firearms crimes, including:

  • Unlawful Possession of a Machine Gun, Handgun, Rifle or Shotgun, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(a), (b) or (c).
  • Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(b).
  • Possession of a Defaced Firearm, and Defacement of Firearm in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(d).
  • Possession of a Firearm While in the Course of Committing a Drug Distribution or Possession With Intent to Distribute Offense, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(a).
  • Certain Persons Not to Possession Weapons (People Previously Convicted of Specified Offenses), in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(a) or (b)(2).
  • The Manufacture, Transport, or Disposition of a Machine Gun, Sawed-Off Shotgun, or Assault Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9(a), (b), or (g).

Simply put, if you are convicted of any of the charges cited above, you will be sentenced under the Graves Act for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment (without parole) for 1/3– 1/2 of a sentence imposed, or three (3) years, whichever is greater.

Unlawful Possession of a Handgun Second Degree Crime At least 3 years in prison and up 5 years (with no parole) under the Graves Act. 

Union County NJ Graves Act Defense Lawyers

Under section N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.2 of the Graves Act, it carves an exception whereby the county prosecutor can reduce mandatory minimum term or waive in entirely. A waiver is never easily obtained and normally requires a motion and petition before the court for consideration. At this point in time, the county prosecutor will consider the waiver by weighing all the circumstances including all aggravating and mitigating factors such as any prior record, any victims, and was the weapon obtained legally. If a waiver or downgrade can be secured, then we may also make an application for Pre-Trial Intervention so that the charges can be dismissed upon your successful completion. It goes without saying that weapons charges involving the Graves Act are serious and complicated and should be handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Proetta & Oliver we have successfully handled many firearms and weapons cases throughout New Jersey. If you would like to discuss the details of your case and potential representation, contact our office at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation.