If you have a weapons charge, you should be aware of the Graves Act. This New Jersey law assesses penalties for such crimes.
The legislation sets mandatory minimum sentencing for certain weapon-related crimes. It acts as a guide for judges that allows them to better monitor plea bargains and hand down their final judgments in a case.
What is a mandatory minimum sentence?
A mandatory minimum sentence is the least amount of time a judge may impose for a specific crime. For example, if the guideline says your crime must receive at least two years in prison, then that is the lowest penalty you will receive. The court cannot override the law and give you less than two years.
What are the minimums under the Graves Act?
The Graves Act set the mandatory minimum sentence at half of what the judge orders or 42 months, whichever is greater. It also rules that you must serve the full minimum sentence without parole.
How will this impact plea deals?
When making plea deals, the prosecutor has a lot of leeway, but he or she cannot ignore the guidelines set by the legislation. The prosecutor may make other offers or adjust other parts of the deal to make it better so that you will be more likely to take it. This could include reducing the charge, which may impact the minimum sentence requirement. However, the act does provide some wiggle room, allowing a judge to override the minimum requirement if there is evidence it will be advantageous for the state.