NJ Graves Act Waiver – How To Get One & Avoid Jail?

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NJ Graves Act Waiver - How To Get One

The NJ Graves Act Waiver is the best way for you to avoid prison when facing NJ gun charges. Many of our clients acquired a gun lawfully in another state & bring it to New Jersey. But simply bringing a gun into NJ is a felony.
You will be subject to arrest, prosecution, and conviction for unlawful gun possession in New Jersey.
We will explain how you can avoid conviction and incarceration in NJ.

Introduction
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. As criminal lawyers, we’ve represented countless out-of-state clients charged with felony gun possession in New Jersey.

Video

This video explains the Graves Act Waiver.
This is not an easy process but it is possible.

What is the purpose of the graves act?

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 Weapons” (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. However, most gun charges in NJ involve lawful gun owners from another state who could lawfully carry that gun in that visitor’s home jurisdiction.

What exactly is a graves act offense?

It is an offense involving illegal possession of a firearm.

To list a few:
· 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 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).

· Possession of Certain Weapons by Persons Previously Convicted of Specified Offenses, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(a) or (b)(2).v · 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).

· Defacement of a Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9(e).
If you need help understanding any of the statutes, call us now for a free consultation.

But my gun wasn't used in a crime

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 will apply to your case.
Since we don’t have CCWs in NJ, merely having a gun on your person is illegal.

In New Jersey is illegal to:
1) Have the gun in certain places;
2) During certain times; and
3) Transported in a specific way.

In addition to felony gun possession charges, you will also face aggravated assault charges if you point your gun at another person.

But I Was Just Passing Through New Jersey

Out-of-state residents driving through New Jersey get arrested every day. If you cross any bridge or tunnel into NJ with a gun, you will be charged with a felony. The police find these guns after searching the vehicle for marijuana. One way we challenge NJ gun possession cases is to challenge law enforcement’s search of your vehicle. We cover this topic extensively in: Dismissing Criminal Charges.

What are the NJ penalties for a gun charge?

Graves Act violations start out as second-degree felony offenses.
Second-degree felonies carry 5-10 year prison sentences subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA).
You must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 42 months under the Graves Act.
For example, one of our Jersey City clients was sentenced to 5 years. Had he been charged with a different felony, he would’ve had to serve2.5 years (30 months). But since his charges involved a gun, he had to serve at least 42 months because that is the minimum sentence that a judge must impose. See more below.

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at 10 years.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison. These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “downgraded” to a Municipal court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.

Is there a way to avoid the graves act in NJ?

Let’s start with the easiest way to avoid the Graves Act & thus avoid prison.
In 2014, New Jersey’s Attorney General issued the following memo:
Out-of-State Visitors From States Where Their Gun-Possession Conduct Would Have Been Lawful.

We’ll simplify this for you.
The memo basically states that the Graves Act won’t apply to you if you are a lawful gun owner from another state who is allowed to carry your gun in your home state.

The memo goes on to explain that Prosecutors are not permitted to reject your application for PTI because you were charged with a crime with a mandatory minimum sentence. (Source State v. Caliguiri, 158 NJ 28 (1999).
To learn more about PTI, read:
PTI: Everything You Need To Know In Five Minutes!

What are Mitigating & Aggravating factors?

In determining whether you will be approved for a Graves Act waiver the court will consider mitigating and aggravating factors.
These factors are outlined in N.J.S.A 2C-44:1.

Mitigating Factors

  • – 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 your 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 incentives
  • – 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 have known was over the age of 60
  • – The act involved domestic violence

What If I can't get a graves act waiver?

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 you 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:
(1) Unlawful Possession
(2) FOR an unlawful purpose.
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 else fails, you may consider a trial.

Final Thoughts

If you have gun charges in New Jersey, you need a criminal defense attorney. As discussed, there are many factors to consider in getting a Graves Act waiver.It is important to find a lawyer who understands how to navigate the criminal system.

Since it’s such an important decision, take the time to find the right criminal lawyer who can help you. Once you’ve found a few lawyers you’d like to meet, check to see if they have any client reviews. At our firm, before a client hires us, we always encourage them to visit our Client Reviews.

Take advantage of free consultations and see how that lawyer makes you feel. When you trust your gut, you never go wrong. Choosing the criminal defense attorney that is right for you is an important decision. So take your time and choose wisely.

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

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How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.