Facing First Degree Charges in Union County, New Jersey
November 25, 2020
In New Jersey, first degree crimes are the most grievous criminal offenses for which anyone can face charges. As such, the State authorizes courts to impose maximum sentences for those found guilty of these offenses. Overall, the penalties for first degree crimes are severe and anyone charged with such an extreme felony offense should be wary of inadequate representation. When under investigation or facing an indictment on a single or more than one charge of the first degree, you need a dedicated criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about the complex laws governing the New Jersey justice system and how to adeptly navigate the legal process, from how to protect your rights during police questioning, to pre-trial motions and strategy, to which defenses to mount and how to go about dismantling the state’s case against you.
Union NJ First Degree Crime Defense Lawyers
The experienced criminal attorneys at our local firm with offices in Union County NJ, can assist with your charges for armed robbery, sex crimes, drug distribution and drug trafficking, and more. If you would like to speak with a member of our team free of charge about first degree charges against yourself or a loved one, call (908) 838-0150 today. We are here to help 24/7 with answers and aggressive defense.
What is a First Degree Crime in Union County?
Criminal offenses handled in Superior Courts in New Jersey are designated as first, second, third, or fourth degree. New Jersey classifies them as “indictable crimes” while other states coin them “felonies.” No matter what term you prefer to use, a first degree crime is the worst crime you can commit or be accused of committing under NJ state law. Due to this reality, first degree crimes require certain sentencing provisions be carried out, which are far worse than their lower level counterparts. A conviction for such a crime makes it certain that you will go to state prison for a lengthy term. The specific duration may fall within the prescribed range, or it may be longer if the charges entail extended sentencing provisions.
What is the Maximum Penalty for a First Degree Crime in New Jersey?
Each indictable crime, depending on its degree, allows the judge to sentence you to New Jersey state prison for a specified time. First degree crimes as a whole carry possible time imprisoned for 10-20 years. Due to the presumption of incarceration for crimes in this range, the court must send you to prison if convicted, meaning there is no possibility that you could be sentenced to probation as an alternative. The legislature has made it impossible to receive a probationary term for such offenses. In fact, in many cases, you can serve more than 20 years if it is determined that you committed specified crimes. For example, charges of murder, aggravated sexual assault of a child less than 14, and carjacking permit enhanced penalties above the 20 years. For aggravated sexual assault, you will be forced to do 25 years before you are eligible for parole. Similarly, if convicted of murder, you cannot be sentence for any less than 30 years. For crimes like kidnapping, 25 years will be imposed, and surprisingly, this number increases to 30 years if found guilty of carjacking.
Even more alarming to the accused is that many first degree felony charges involve sentencing under the No Early Release Act (NERA), meaning you will remain in jail until you serve at least 85% of your sentence. NERA applies to specific crimes of violence and almost all first degree crimes are considered violent in some way.
Common Charges for First Degree Crimes in Union County Criminal Court
First degree crimes are essentially extreme variations of lower level crimes. For example, if you steal a car, it is considered a theft, likely in third degree. On the reverse side of the coin, if you steal a car and someone is in it or you take it by force, you have just committed a first degree carjacking. Similarly, if you put a gun to someone’s head and you steal their wallet, you have elevated what started as a typical theft, to a first degree armed robbery. Other common charges for first degree indictable offenses are as follows:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated Arson
- Maintaining a Drug Manufacturing Facility
- Drug Distribution (large quantities)
- Money laundering
- Disarming an officer
Sentencing provisions and the probability of being found guilty are things that you must consider when facing such extreme criminal allegations.
Can I be held in jail without bail for a first degree crime?
People charged with first degree crimes often wonder whether or not they will be let out on bail while their case is pending. All charges for first degree crimes will be placed on a warrant. Accordingly, the police will draft the complaint, get the warrant, arrest you and put you in the county jail in the county in which the alleged offense occurred. If you allegedly committed an offense in Elizabeth, you will be placed in the Union County Jail. If your offense took place in New Brunswick, you will be placed in the Middlesex County jail, and so on.
Once in jail, in most cases and save for exceptional circumstances, you have one shot to get out on bail. This chance is made available through a detention hearing in which you must convince the judge that you are not a danger to anyone, that you will show up in court as directed, and that you will not commit any new offenses if released. More importantly, you will likely be viewed as a possible threat to the alleged witness and will have to convince the judge that you are not a danger to those involved or uninvolved in the case. This can be a difficult feat to achieve and is better left to criminal defense attorneys who are knowledgeable, experienced, and have ample time to devote to your case.
Some crimes, such as murder, may not even permit bail as it is deemed a “life-eligible” offense. But if your case is not a life eligible offense, you may have the possibility to be released through the implementation of criminal justice reform.
Consult a First Degree Crime Defense Lawyer Near Elizabeth NJ
If you or a loved one has been charged with a first degree crime in Union County, our defense firm can help. If someone you love is being held on first degree charges in Union County Jail, you’ve come to the right place. We have experience handling bail hearings for first degree crimes and know what the judge and the prosecutor are weighing in their decisions. Our lawyers can and will advance sound arguments with the intention of demonstrating that you are not a risk to the public at large. This takes careful analysis and artful examination of the case at hand. While there is no guarantee that you will be released during the adjudication phase of your criminal case, it is best to do all that you can up front and get ahead of the curve when trying to be freed from the confines of the county jail. If you have been detained, it is equally important to have experienced defense counsel handling every phase of these complicated proceedings. The Union County criminal law attorneys at our firm are ready, willing and able to meet the demands of a first degree criminal case arising in Elizabeth, Plainfield, Cranford, Mountainside, Roselle, Clark, or other towns in the area. Contact us now at (908) 838-0150 to go through the specifics of the accusations against you or someone you love. A lawyer who can help is standing by to assist you.