Bergen County Gun Lawyers

It is well known that New Jersey has probably the strictest weapon offense laws in the Country. Truck drivers admittedly avoid traveling through the State of New Jersey if possible to avoid any potential issues. The legislature had to create what is known as the Graves Act to help curb the weapons epidemic that New Jersey like the rest of the Country is facing. The overall goal of the graves act is to make the already harsh gun laws even harsher, by including mandatory incarceration and parole ineligibility for certain offenses. The hidden underlying purpose of the graves act was to help control the gang issues in New Jersey. However, the legislation is so broad that it covers everyone, not just gang members. As you will see, there are certain waivers which may be filed and argued on your behalf in an attempt to take your cases out of the Graves Act. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are able and willing to help you or your loved one with their weapons case since we are a team of ten criminal defense lawyers with over 200 years of combined experience. In addition to this, one of our attorneys was a former assistant prosecutor and during his time as an assistant prosecutor he held the position as the director of the Gun, Gang, and Drug Task Force.

Hackensack NJ Gun Attorneys

With that being said, there are certain waivers which may be applicable depending on the facts of your case.  In addition, most weapons charges stem from some form of a search; therefore, there is always the potential for a suppression motion if the said search violated your rights. The staff at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has over 200 years of combined experience, including over twenty years of combined prosecuting experience.  We have been representing individuals charged with unlawful possession of a weapon throughout Bergen County for over fifteen years. Listed below are some of the more common weapons offenses individuals find themselves charged with in Bergen County:

  1. Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
  2. Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purposes
  3. Possession of a Firearm without a valid permit
  4. Certain Persons Not to be in Possession of a Firearm
  5. BB / Airsoft / Paintball  Guns

Before discussing the waivers that may be applicable to you or your loved ones case, it is probably pertinent to know what the Graves Act encompasses. Before 2008, the Graves Act only included the possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and possession of a firearm during the course of committing certain specified predicate crimes. On January 13, 2008, the law changed and included the unlawful simple possession of a handgun. What this did was included the simple possession of a handgun without a permit here in New Jersey at the time of you or your loved ones arrest. Even if you or your loved one weren’t doing anything illegal with the handgun, it didn’t matter so long as you or your loved one didn’t have a valid permit here in New Jersey. Due to this expansion of the Graves Act, a good number of defendants charged with unlawful simple possession of a handgun had to serve a mandatory prison sentence. Some of these defendants included first time offenders, whom most had a valid permit back in their home state but were either driving through New Jersey when they got pulled over or forgot to take it out of their car while visiting New Jersey.

On September 24, 2014, however, the Attorney General of New Jersey issued a directive to all prosecutors that somewhat relaxed the Graves Act waiver. The reason was that a case drew headlines, and because of this case the Division of Criminal Justice asked all county prosecutors to determine how cases where a defendant legally purchased a firearm in their home state and reasonably believed that it was also legally to carry the weapon here in New Jersey. The September 24, 2014 provided further guidance to prosecutors where the above situation or similar situations occurred and if so to apply the following factors:

  • The manner and circumstances of the possession minimized the exposure of the firearm to others in this State, thereby reducing the risk of harm.
    • The typical scenario for this is where the defendant kept the handgun in the trunk of the car rather on him/her or near him/her as well as that they were just travelling through the state rather than having an extended stay here in New Jersey.
  • The defendant is otherwise a law-abiding citizen.
    • This one is straightforward, it simply means that the defendant does not have a criminal record.
  • The defendant on his or her own initiative advised a police officer that a firearm was present.
    • This one is a little tricky since it tends to mean that the defendant voluntarily told the police officer that there was a handgun in the vehicle and that he/she believed it was legal to have that handgun in the car. If the officer has to ask if there is anything else in the car and the defendant offers this information up, it tends to negate the voluntariness. If the defendant during questioning tries to hide the fact that there is a handgun in the vehicle, then obviously this will be seen as knowing that having a handgun on him/her without a valid permit here in New Jersey was illegal.
  • The defendant presented an unloaded firearm to a hotel clerk for safekeeping to prevent it from being stolen from defendant’s vehicle during a hotel stay.
    • This one is also straightforward. Pretty much the defendant hands over his or her handgun to a hotel clerk so that it will not be stolen and presumably used in the commission of a crime and/or accidentally discharged.
  • The defendant had not been advised of limitations on the right to possess or carry a firearm.
    • The common response when a defendant is charged with unlawful possession of a handgun but he/she has a legal permit in their home state is that they didn’t know they had to get a permit here in New Jersey or that the permit didn’t extend to other states. This factor tries to delineate whether the defendant was expressly told by his or her home state whether or not he or she was informed that their permit is only valid in their home state and does not extend to other jurisdictions such as New Jersey.

If you or your loved one’s case is similar to the above, i.e., that they legally purchased and had a lawful permit for his/her handgun in their home state, then the September 24, 2014 Attorney General Directive may be applicable to you or your loved one. What this means is this that the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI), a diversionary program, is potentially available. If the Prosecutor consents, and with the judge’s approval, you or your loved one can have your case dismissed and expunged if you or your loved one successfully completes the PTI Program.

Lastly, please keep in mind that not only is the Graves Act applicable with a weapons offense, but another severe penalty which often comes into play with certain weapons offenses in New Jersey is the No Early Release Act, (“NERA”) which in pertinent part requires an individual to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they become eligible for parole. This is similar to the Graves Act where the defendant still must serve 85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The main distinction, however, is that the Graves Act only applies to weapons offenses whereas the No Early Release Act applies to numerous cases, ranging from murder to aggravated sexual assault and so forth.     

If you or a loved one has been charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon, certain persons, possession of hallow point bullets or any other weapons offense for that matter in Bergen County, The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help. We serve all of Bergen County including towns like Mahwah, Fort Lee, Paramus, Hackensack, Lodi, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Garfield and Elmwood Park. If you would like to come into our office to have a one on one consultation with Mr. Rosen who heads up our Hackensack Office please contact us at 201.429.9783.  We are available 24/7 to help assist in anyway possible and as always our initial consultations are always free.

Experienced NJ Criminal Defense Gun Lawyers

As stated earlier, the penalties if convicted of certain weapons offenses can have severe consequences on your life, which include lengthy state prison sentences.  If you have been charged with any of the aforementioned crimes in towns like Hackensack, Teaneck, Fort Lee, East Rutherford, Edgewater, Montvale and Ramsey it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense trial attorney about your options. As you can see from above, there are certain waivers that an experienced criminal defense attorney can obtain in order to keep you from being incarcerated. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact any one of our Bergen County offices to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about your rights. We fully understand that being charged with a criminal offense can be absolutely devastating let alone an offense that requires mandatory incarceration. As such we make ourselves available 24/7 to help assist in any way possible. We can be reached directly at 201.429.9783.