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New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Statistical data shows that the vast majority of arrests in New Jersey for illegal possession of a weapon involve other crimes, such as homicide, assault, drug possession, carjacking, etc. Along with some of the strictest gun laws in the country New Jersey also has some of the stiffest penalties for those who are convicted of unlawful possession. As a result, despite having legal possession of a firearm, many individuals have found themselves looking at years in prison just because they were unaware of the laws. Our attorneys have represented numerous individuals who did not knowingly commit a crime when it comes to possession of a weapon.

Until 2008, the “Graves Act" only applied when a person was in possession of a weapon while simultaneously committing a crime, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a). Now the list of offenses that are subject to the “Graves Act" includes the following:

  • Possession of a Firearm While Committing a Drug Distribution or Possession With Intent to Distribute Offense
  • Possession of a Defaced Firearm
  • Possession of Certain Weapons by Persons Previously Convicted of Specified Offenses
  • Manufacture, Transport, or Disposition of a Machine Gun, Sawed-Off Shotgun, or Assault Firearm
  • Defacement of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun

Pursuant to the recent amendments, a person convicted of any of the foregoing crimes must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment with a minimum term of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, 1/3 to 1/2 of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater. Only with an experienced attorney can you possibly avoid these requirements. We have sought and in many cases obtained waivers from the mandatory minimums by negotiating with the prosecutor and making the necessary application to the court. This is no easy task, as prosecutors are often statutorily bound to demand prison time.

Under the law, firearms are not the only weapons that can be illegal. Depending upon the type of weapon and facts and circumstances of a defendant’s arrest a weapon can include air soft rifles, bb guns, slingshots, knives, bats, etc. As with every case, our attorneys carefully review the details surrounding our clients’ arrests in order to determine the constitutionality of any searches, as well as to determine if there are any legal justifications. For example, under the law, though an individual may unlawfully possess a weapon, they may be justified in doing so if they are protecting themselves or others. Pursuant to court rules, use of this defense requires notice to the prosecutors in a timely fashion. Failure to notice this defense may result in it being barred at trial. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

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