New Jersey Lawyer for Graves Act Violations
Experienced Defense Lawyer Fights Mandatory Prison Sentences for Graves Act Violations in Middlesex County, Mercer County, Union County, Ocean County, and Burlington County, NJ
The Graves Act is the New Jersey legislature’s response to the uptick in mass shootings and gun-related violence in recent years. The Graves Act imposes harsh penalties upon people convicted on gun charges. These include mandatory minimum prison sentences. The law is among the strictest in the U.S. If charged with a Graves Act violation, it is important to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights and help keep you out of jail.
At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, I represent clients accused of Graves Act violations across New Jersey. As a former prosecutor myself, I understand the nuances of the law. It can be challenging to develop a successful defense strategy for Graves Act violations. However, workable defenses do exist, and I know how to put them into action to help you avoid the worst-case consequences.
I am familiar with how prosecutor’s offices and the Attorney General’s Offie iin New Jersey handle such cases. I will advocate on your behalf through the difficult process of applying for a Graves Act waiver. For most Graves Act violations, the waiver is the key method of minimizing or avoiding mandatory minimum prison time. This is also sometimes known as a “valve.”
I believe in being straightforward with my clients. Graves Act cases are complex and, depending upon your specific circumstances, you may be facing an uphill battle. There are defenses that exist however. If you have been charged with violating the Graves Act, it’s important to get started on your case as soon as possible. Call my office for a free initial consultation today.
New Jersey Graves Act: NJSA 2C:43-6
Initially, the Graves Act was enacted to deter crimes like burglary and armed robbery. Gun violence has changed dramatically in recent years, however, and media coverage of tragic mass shootings has spurred a nationwide response. New Jersey expanded the Graves Act to cover most gun-related offenses.
The Graves Act applies to the following types of gun-related charges:
- Unlawful possession of a firearm, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and machine guns (under NJSA 2C:39-5)
- Possessing a defaced firearm, or defacing a firearm, (including sawed-off shotguns) under NJSA 2C:39-3
- NJSA 2C:39-9 violations for illegally manufacturing, transporting or disposing of firearms
- Possessing a firearm for an unlawful purpose under NJSA 2C:39-4(a)
- Using or possessing a firearm while committing or attempting to commit certain crimes (such as robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault or aggravated assault)
- Possession of a firearm by someone barred from possession because of prior criminal offenses in contravention of NJSA 2C:39-7
Conviction on a Graves Act violation means you will face a mandatory minimum prison sentence. A period of that prison sentence must be served without the possibility of parole. The mandatory minimum prison sentence is the greater of:
- One-third to one-half of the prison sentence imposed, or
- Three years (for third-degree charges) or 18 months (for fourth-degree charges).
If you have a prior gun-related offense, the judge will apply an enhanced mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years under NJSA 2C:44-3(d). As with any other case, past history or the imposition of multiple charges can also magnify the prison sentence imposed.
NJ Graves Act Waivers and Alternative Defense Strategies to Gun Charges
Graves Act waivers are available in certain cases based on prosecutorial discretion. A Graves Act waiver gives the prosecution the ability to offer a plea. That plea usually results in:
- A three-year plea, meaning the defendant will serve one year in prison (rather than three years based on a five-year sentence), or
- Non-custodial probation in lieu of prison
In either case, the mandatory minimum prison term is reduced substantially. However, you will still end up with a felony on your criminal record.
First offenders who are charged with Graves Act violations may be eligible for pre-trial intervention (PTI) in relatively rare circumstances. Because New Jersey takes gun charges so seriously, courts and prosecutors are often reluctant to allow the usual alternatives to prosecution. PTI may be available, however, if the circumstances of your case are especially compelling. With PTI, you must complete a type of probationary period, where you might be required to complete drug counseling, do community service, pay a fine (as ordered by the judge). PTI lets you avoid a criminal record once the program is finished.
As your defense lawyer, I make it a point to get to know you personally. Learning about your life and the details of your offense gives me the best chance of presenting a successful defense. Unfortunately, many busy lawyers skim over this step in the process. With any Graves Act violation, PTI is usually the best outcome.
Contact a Skilled Graves Act Violation Defense Lawyer at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC Today
You can trust that I will be truthful with you throughout the entire criminal justice process. I work tirelessly to get results that are in my clients’ best interests and will do the same for you. To learn more about building a defense to a New Jersey Graves Act violation, schedule a free initial consultation today. You can call my office or fill out this online contact form and I will respond quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Graves Act Violation Defense Strategies
Yes. Effective defense strategies do exist, although it remains important that you take the charges very seriously. The fact that you have no prior criminal history will work in your favor. However, lack of a criminal record alone will not help you avoid mandatory prison time. You need a lawyer to advocate for that result. In other words, the prosecution will not simply volunteer a deal because of your clean record.
Your best defense will depend upon what, exactly, happened in your case. PTI might be an option if you have no prior criminal offenses and your Graves Act charges do not involve another violent crime. It does, however, require admitting guilt. Fighting the charges themselves carries the same risk as any other crime. I am always prepared to defend your case through to trial, which may include working to:
– Challenge whether the prosecution obtained evidence illegally
– Argue that you did not actually commit the underlying firearms offense
– Asset constitutional violations
– Develop additional defenses based on the specific facts of your case