Handgun Laws due to Change in New Jersey

It appears that the New Jersey Legislature are trying to make the already harsh gun laws even harsher. The key statute in the New Jersey Criminal Code that address gun possession is N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, unlawful possession of a weapon. As it is currently stands, possession of a handgun in New Jersey is a second degree felony. If convicted of second degree felony, a defendant could sentenced up too ten years in a state prison. To make matters worse, about eight years ago the Legislatures created the Graves Act. The Graves Act mandates that anyone convicted under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, must be sentenced to prison term and they must serve at least three years in prison before they could become eligible for parole. This act was created to attempt to decrease gang violence, however, since the act is so broad it tends to catch non-gang member types as well, like hunters and truck drivers. With that being said, there is what is more commonly referred to as a Graves Act Waiver and if granted, the prison sentence could either be reduced or eliminated depending on the applicable facts of the case.

There is a bill currently pending the Governors signature which would make the unlawful possession of a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5) a first degree felony. Therefore, a defendant convicted under this statute would be facing anywhere between ten to twenty years in a New Jersey State Prison instead of ten years. In addition, the parole in-eligibility term mandated by the Graves Act would be fixed at, or between, one-third to one-half of a sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater. This clearly would make an already harsh statute even harsher. 

Possessing a handgun in New Jersey is a very serious offense as it stands. If this bill is signed by the Governor, the penalties for any one convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon would obviously be life changing for any one. Therefore, achieving a Graves Act Waiver is extremely important. If you or someone you know is facing gun charges in Bergen County or elsewhere in New Jersey, the Law Offices of Marshall, Bonus, Proetta & Oliver can help. If you have any further questions with regards to this offense, or any other offense for that matter, please contact any one of our offices for a free initial consultation with one of the eight attorneys on staff.