If the police arrest you on a weapons charge, it could result in serious jail time. The Graves Act denies you parole until you serve half of your prison sentence or at least 42 months, meaning you could be in prison for at least two and a half years out of a five-year term. However, you might avoid this outcome if a court grants you a Graves Act waiver.
New Jersey lawmakers understand that not everyone caught up in a gun charge deserves a strong punishment, particularly if this is your first offense. Under state law, a prosecutor may take the step of requesting a waiver from the Graves Act.
Starting a Graves Act waiver
According to New Jersey law, a prosecutor can make a motion to the assignment judge overseeing your case. The prosecutor must establish valid grounds for the judge to grant you a waiver. If you are under a weapons charge, the prosecutor must show that you have not previously received a conviction for that same charge.
In addition, the prosecutor must argue that a mandatory sentence under the Graves Act would not serve the interests of justice. Basically, serving prison time for the length mandated under the law would be an excessive punishment for you. Additionally, it is also possible for a defense counsel to file a motion for a waiver.
A judge might not agree to a waiver, but if the judge concurs that you do not deserve the mandatory sentence under the Graves Act, a number of outcomes could result. The judge may reduce your sentence so you serve only a year in prison until you become eligible for parole.
Ideally, you would not have to serve in prison at all. Judges have the latitude to grant probation. Pretrial intervention is an uncommon outcome, but sometimes a judge will permit it. Given that Graves Act cases can be complex, it is important not to directly compare your situation to someone else charged with an identical offense.