One of New Jersey’s key firearm laws is known as the Graves Act. It sets forth mandatory minimum sentences for individuals convicted of crimes using firearms.
The Graves Act is incredibly strict. It is one of the harshest sentencing guidelines in the United States.
In many cases, sentencing guidelines are more lenient for first-time offenders. Under the Graves Act, this is not true. Even first-time offenders will face stiff sentences. They do not get the benefit of the doubt as they might with other crimes.
Crimes under the Graves Act
This legislation applies to specific criminal activity committed while the person was in possession of a firearm. The crimes include drug dealing and trafficking and manufacturing or trafficking illegal weapons. It also includes illegal possession of a firearm and not having the proper permit to carry a firearm.
The penalties under the act
A person convicted under the Graves Act faces long prison sentences with periods where they are ineligible for parole. The judge will have no leeway in sentencing as these are mandatory under the law. The judge must give the person the minimum stated in the act, but he or she does have the ability to increase that sentence. The shortest sentence under this legislation is five years in prison and ineligibility for parole for at least 42 months.
There is the potential for a court to issue a waiver. If this happens, a person facing a Graves Act charge might be able to avoid sentencing under the act.