Recent Changes in Gun Laws

There have been recent changes in the gun laws for the State of New Jersey, greatly enhancing the penalties for those individuals that have been charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, or otherwise possessing a machine gun, handgun, rifle, shotgun or assault firearm.

The new law (N.J.S. 2C:39-5) makes it a First Degree crime for a person to knowingly possess a machine gun handgun, rifle, shotgun or assault firearm if they have a prior conviction of a Felony or indictable offense, or received a sentence pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:43-7.2, entitled the "No Early Release Act," and otherwise known as NERA or "85% Rule".

If a person is now arrested for Possession of a Handgun, Rifle, Shotgun or Assault Firearm and have previously been convicted of any of the crimes enumerated under the No Early Release Act, then the new weapons offense will be a First Degree crime.

A First Degree crime is an indictable offense in which an individual would receive a possible 10 to 20 year New Jersey state prison term. It would also contain a parole ineligibility period (parole stip) under the Graves Act. Additionally, the law enhances the sentence for a weapons offense even if a first-time offender.

More specifically, pursuant to the Graves' Act, a person convicted for the Unlawful Possession of a machine gun, handgun, rifle, shotgun or assault firearm must serve a period of parole ineligibility (parole stip), which is a mandatory minimum term, that is fixed between one-half of the sentence imposed by the court, or 42 months, whichever is greater. This means that a person sentenced to a 7 year prison term would have to serve at least half of that 7 years under the Graves Act before becoming eligible for parole.

The Prosecutors Office or Attorney Generals Office could extend a plea offerin which the mandatory minimum parole stip would be 42 months in a New Jersey state prison. Essentially, this increases the prior Graves Act stipulation of parole eligibility from 36 months to 42 months.

The Graves Act and the new law does allow for a waiver of the stipulation of parole ineligibility if the weapon involved is (1) an air gun, spring gun or pistol where the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, carbon dioxide, compressed air or other gas or vapor and ejects a bullet or missile smaller than 3/8 of an inch in diameter with sufficient force to injure a person. This is pursuant to N.J.S 2C:39-5.

The legislature has significantly enhanced and increased the penalty for any firearm offense in New Jersey. Therefore, if you are charged with a firearm offense, weapons offense, possession of a machine gun, handgun, rifle, shotgun or assault firearm, or possession of such items for an unlawful purpose, you need an experienced defense attorney that is a recognized expert in the field. You should call Joseph D. Rotella, Esq., 744 Broad Street, Suite 1520, Newark, NJ.

Mr. Rotellas credentials include appointment by the New Jersey Supreme Court as an expert criminal defense attorney by the designation of a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. He is also Board Certified as a Criminal Trial Advocate, National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been selected as one of the top defense attorneys in the State for the last 7 years. He is currently the President of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for New Jersey (ACDL-NJ).

Mr. Rotella's expertise, knowledge, tenacity and aggressiveness is known by the Prosecutor's Offices in the numerous counties in which he practices. Therefore, if you are arrested for a weapons offense, possession of a machine gun, handgun, rifle, shotgun or assault firearm, or possession of a firearm without the appropriate Purchase or Carry Permit, you need his expert representation.

While Mr. Rotella practices in all counties, his practice is heavily concentrated in Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties.

What you do in the first 24 hours after your arrest can significantly affect the outcome of your case, and you should immediately contact an expert Certified Criminal Defense Attorney, such as Mr. Rotella.