Degrees of Crimes and Penalties in New Jersey Criminal Cases
Many states classify crimes as either misdemeanors or felonies, but in New Jersey these categories are referred to as disorderly persons offenses or indictable offenses. Disorderly persons offenses are like misdemeanors in other states and indictable offenses are like felonies, carrying potential sentences of at least one year of imprisonment. Indictable offenses are graded by degree and the potential penalties increase with each higher degree of offense. Similarly, disorderly persons offenses are divided into petty disorderly persons offenses and disorderly persons offenses, with the latter typically carrying increased penalties. If you have been arrested in Union County, NJ, learn more about the degree of your criminal charges and the penalties you face if convicted. To discuss your specific legal situation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, contact Proetta & Oliver today at (908) 838-0150. We provide initial consultations free of charge and will be happy to provide answers to your questions.
NJ Indictable Offenses: Degrees and Penalties
If you are charged with an indictable offense—akin to a felony—you have the right to a grand jury indictment and a jury trial. While the penalties for an indictable crime are generally more significant than those for disorderly persons offenses, the right to be indicted and tried by members of your community, rather than a judge, can be a real advantage. These cases are adjudicated in the Superior Court, Criminal Division in the county where the alleged offense occurred and are prosecuted by the County Prosecutor’s Office.
Indictable offenses in New Jersey are classified into four separate degrees (from most severe to least severe): first degree, second degree, third degree, and fourth degree.
First Degree Crimes in New Jersey
The most severe crimes with the most significant potential penalties in New Jersey are classified as first degree crimes and include aggravated sexual assault, murder (homicide), aggravated manslaughter, armed robbery, and maintaining a CDS production facility. If you are convicted of a first degree crime, you may be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years of imprisonment.
Second Degree Crimes in NJ
The potential penalties for a second degree offense include 5-10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. Examples of second degree crimes include sexual assault, aggravated arson, armed burglary, and certain drug distribution offenses.
Third Degree Indictable Offenses
If you are convicted of a third degree crime in New Jersey, you may be facing 3 to 5 years in NJ State Prison and up to $15,000 in fines for offenses including shoplifting goods valued at $500 to $75,000, possession of drugs like heroin and cocaine, and terroristic threats.
NJ Fourth Degree Crimes & Penalties
Fourth degree crimes are the lowest graded indictable crimes in New Jersey, but they still carry the potential of serious penalties including up to 18 months of incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines. Some examples of fourth degree crimes include stalking, possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, and forgery.
Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey
While they typically carry lower penalties than indictable offenses, being charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey is not insignificant. You do not have the right to a grand jury indictment or a jury trial, yet you will still have a criminal record if convicted. If you are convicted of a petty disorderly persons offense, you could be sentenced with up to 30 days of imprisonment and up to $500 in fines. Petty disorderly persons offenses include harassment and disorderly conduct.
If you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you may face up to 6 months of imprisonment, as well as fines of up to $1,000. Examples of disorderly persons offenses include shoplifting merchandise valued at less than $200, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple assault.
Charged with a Crime in Union County, New Jersey?
Both indictable and disorderedly persons offenses can create consequences to your life and freedom. If you have been charged with either a disorderly persons offense or an indictable crime in Union County, New Jersey, it is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the tactics of prosecutors and can argue the best defenses available to you in your case. At the Cranford law office of Proetta & Oliver, our seasoned criminal defense attorneys represent clients charged with indictable and disorderly persons offenses in Scotch Plains, Berkeley Heights, Summit, Westfield, New Providence, Linden, Clark, Elizabeth, Plainfield, and throughout New Jersey. Call (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Union County, NJ.