Charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in New Jersey?
One of the most frequently asked questions that we get as it relates to gun offenses in Somerset and Hunterdon County is “what if the gun was legal”? Unfortunately, the lawfulness of the gun may not, and more often will not, be controlling when it comes to an unlawful possession of a weapon charge. It is well known by now that New Jersey takes gun offenses very seriously and at times has a zero tolerance approach. That means that unless the gun owner was in strict compliance with the laws of New Jersey they could find themselves facing a lengthy prison sentence, even for a first time offender. New Jersey has very limited exceptions, even as it relates to lawful gun owners from another state. If the weapon is being transported, it must be transported in compliance with New Jersey laws, even the slightest deviation from the law could lead to an individual being charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.
Need Local Lawyer in Flemington for Gun Charge
Probably do in large part to its location within the State and its close proximity to Pennsylvania, Somerset and Hunterdon County tend to deal with its fair share of unlawful possession of a weapons charges. It is important to note here that New Jersey does not accept out-of-state gun permits, including permits to carry. Unless the out-of-state owner is transporting the weapon in an otherwise lawful manner, in order for them to lawfully possess a weapon in New Jersey, that individual must first have obtained their New Jersey Firearms Id card. That is required regardless of whatever other authorizations there home State may have issued them (i.e. Permit to Carry). One of the most common cases that we tend to see in this area of the State is the truck driver, who lawfully owns the weapon in another state, gets pulled over for a minor traffic in fraction and as a result the weapon is discovered and they now find themselves second degree felony gun charges. This could be a nightmare situation. If you or a loved one has unfortunately found yourself in this type of situation and would like to discuss your options with one of the criminal defense attorneys on staff at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options, then please contact our office at 908-533-1064.
Ways to Avoid Jail Time on a Gun Charge in NJ
As touched upon above, all unlawful possession of a firearm charges (handgun, rifles, shotguns, machine guns) will be subject to what is known as the Graves Act. The Graves Act, which is found under NJSA 2C:43-6, was expanded in 2008 to encompass unlawful possession of a weapon charges. In doing so, the legislature was trying to curb gang violence and deter those from unlawfully possessing a weapon. However, it unfortunately tends to sweep non-violent, lawful gun owners, who simply fail to follow the strict black letter of law in New Jersey (i.e. properly transporting). The Graves Act requires that an individual not only be subject to mandatory incarceration but that the term also be subject to a parole ineligibility period. The mandatory minimum parole ineligibility period is forty-two (42) months or half of the term of incarceration, whichever is greater. Therefore, the lowest plea offer that the prosecution can tender is a five year prison sentence with a forty-two month parole ineligibility period.
With that being said, due to the over-sweeping aspect in which the Grave Act inherently creates, New Jersey has allowed for a Graves Act Waivers. There are several advantages to a Graves Act Waiver. If a waiver is granted, the court has several options, which include:
- Placing the Defendant into the Pretrial Intervention Program
- Placing the Defendant on Probation in lieu of Prison
- Place the Defendant on Probation Condition Upon a County Jail Term
- Reduce the Mandatory Minimum Term from 42 Months to 1 Year
In determining whether or not the Defendant is entitled to a Graves Act Waiver, the prosecution could look to the following factors for guidance:
- Nature and circumstances of the offense
- Does the Defendant have any prior criminal history
- Was the gun lawful purchased
- Does the Defendant have a lawful permit to possess / carry
- How the weapon was being transported
- Did they immediately notify the law enforcement that they were in possession of the weapon
Local Attorney for a Gun Charge in Somerville, New Jersey
As you can see from above, the benefits of a Graves Act Waiver can be life changing. The ability to avoid the otherwise devastating consequences of being convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon in New Jersey requires the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon in Somerset or Hunterdon County, in towns like Clinton, Somerville, Flemington, Raritan, Hillsborough, Franklin, Union Township, East Amwell or elsewhere, we can help. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law then please contact our office at 908-533-1064 or you can try contacting us online. As always, our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.