New Jersey classifies its criminal offenses slightly differently from other states. Here, at least in the court setting, you will not typically hear the term “felony”. Instead, the most serious offense is called an “indictable offense” and sometimes simply a “crime.” The less serious version of criminal offenses is called “disorderly persons offenses.”Charged with a crime in New Jersey? Please call (800) 673-3656
These titles simply give the law a way to classify the offenses by their seriousness. Crimes are the equivalent of felony offenses, which are more serious and carry a more stringent potential sentence. Disorderly persons offenses are lesser charges, the equivalent of misdemeanor offenses.
Crimes/ Indictable Offenses
The most serious of offenses under New Jersey law are those designated as crimes or indictable offenses. These offenses are classified even further by four degrees. The degree of a crime helps determine the potential sentence for it.
|Potential Sentence||Example Crimes|
|1st Degree||10-20 years||Murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robbery|
|2nd Degree||5-10 years||Aggravated assault, unarmed robbery, eluding police, computer pornography, serious drug offenses|
|3rd Degree||3-5 years||Theft/shoplifting, burglary, assault,|
|4th Degree||Up to 18 months||Some drug charges, stalking, theft/shoplifting|
First Degree Crimes
Indictable criminal offenses that are categorized as first degree crimes are the most serious on the New Jersey criminal statutes, including murder, rape, kidnapping, major drug crimes and armed robbery.
(For some crimes, the sentence may fall outside the range dictated here. These potential sentences are explained within the specific statute covering that offense.)
Ref: NJ §2C:43-6
Mandatory Sentence Service of 85%
For some New Jersey crimes, the laws dictate you must serve 85% of the sentence before becoming available for parole or early release. These crimes are all 1st and 2nd degree offenses and include things like: aggravated assault, robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping, carjacking, aggravated arson, burglary, extortion, manslaughter, and murder.
Ref: NJ §2C: 43-7.2
Disorderly Person Offenses
Both disorderly person offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses carry far less weighty penalties than crimes. Examples of these offenses include possession of marijuana less than 50 grams, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, and harassment.
Typically, disorderly persons offenses result in probation and fines. However, they do carry the potential for up to 6 months in jail or 30 days in jail in the case of petty disorderly persons offenses.
Ref: NJ §2C:43-8
New Jersey Criminal Sentencing
Although the crime you are charged with plays the biggest role in the judge’s determination of your sentence, there are numerous other factors to be considered. The majority of the information used in determining what type of sentence is appropriate for you is found in a presentence report.
A presentence report is an investigative report provided to the judge that includes a wide array of information. The presentence investigation is typically done by a probation officer and may include the following:
Ref: NJ §2C:44-6
Arguably the most important piece of information on the presentence report is the investigating officer’s recommendation. The officer will make their recommendation on the belief on the likelihood of your success on probation or whether they believe you would be best served by incarceration.
The judge is not required to follow the recommendation of the presentence report, though they will likely give the investigating officer’s professional opinion some consideration.
Probation in New Jersey
In many cases, the judge will suspend your sentence. A suspended sentence refers to the judge sentencing you to a period of incarceration and then “suspending” that sentence so that you can fulfill a period of probation.
For instance: You may be sentenced to a period of 3 years in prison. The judge can decide to suspend that sentence in lieu of 4 years of supervised probation. If you are caught in violation of that probation, however, the judge can choose to “activate” your original prison sentence.
As your attorney, I will do my best to argue for lenient sentencing. Depending on your criminal record and other circumstances, I could potentially help you get probation rather than a jail sentence. Contact me today to discuss the details of your case and how I might be able to help.
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