Sentencing

In New Jersey, crimes commonly referred to as felonies are known in New Jersey as indictable offenses (punishable by a minimum of 1 year to a life sentence in State Prison), whereas misdemeanors in this State are referred to as Disorderly Persons offenses or Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses (punishable by, respectively, 6 months or 30 days).

In New Jersey, crimes and offenses are broken down into the following categories:

  • First Degree Crimes, punishable by 10-20 years in State Prison;
  • Second Degree Crimes, punishable by 5-10 years in State Prison;
  • Third Degree Crimes, punishable by 3-5 years in State Prison;
  • Fourth Degree Crimes, punishable by 12-18 months in State Prison;
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses, punishable by 6 months in Jail; and
  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses, punishable by 30 days in Jail.

In New Jersey, first and second-degree crimes carry a presumption of incarceration in State Prison, which means a person must overcome a significant burden to avoid being imprisoned for 5-20 years in case of a first degree conviction, whereas a person with no prior convictions has a presumption of non-incarceration to State Prison in the case of a third or fourth-degree conviction.

A conviction for any indictable crime or disorderly or petty-disorderly offense carries the possibility of a fine, loss of license and/or probation in lieu of incarceration.

Probation terms for crimes range from 1-5 years and may include up to 364 days in Jail as a condition of probation, whereas probationary terms for offenses are generally 1 year or less. Probation can include in-person or telephonic reporting, community service, drug testing, education or employment requirements, restitution and other terms imposed by the Court.

No Early Release Act (NERA):

In 1998, New Jersey enacted what is known as the No Early Release Act (NERA), codified at N.J.S.A. 2C:43-72.

This law—applicable to crimes including murder, aggravated, reckless and vehicular manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated assault and sexual assault, carjacking and robbery, racketeering, and certain burglaries and arsons—carries two significant features which make this statute among the harshest mandatory minimum laws in all of the United States.

First, any conviction of a NERA offense requires that the offender serve a minimum of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which time the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

Second, convictions for NERA offenses carry, respectively, either a 5 year (first degree) or 3 year (second degree) period of parole supervision following a person’s release. During that post-release parole period, a parole violation would result in the offender being sent back to State Prison for up to the full 5 year parole supervision term.

If you are charged with a NERA offense, you are in grave jeopardy of having your freedom taken for a very long period of time. Contact us today.

Megan’s Law:

Certain sexual assault, endangering and other offenses carry as a consequence that the offender must comply with Megan’s Law, which requires that an offender register with parole and/or local law enforcement for a period ranging from years to the rest of a person’s life.

Likewise, the extent of the community notification of the offender—law enforcement, local community actors (schools, day care) and/or neighbors—is a function of the offense to which a person has been convicted, as well as an evaluation of their risk to re-offend. This is commonly known as the “Tiering” process, wherein someone is assigned a Tier Level of I, II or III, based on level of risk.

Extended Term:

Depending on the nature of the offense and/or the accused’s prior criminal history, if any, a person may be eligible for a series of sentencing enhancements, commonly known as extended terms.

Extended terms are applicable to Prior Drug Offenders Convicted of an Intent or Distribution-type offense; Repeat Violent Offenders; Persistent Offenders; Repeat Firearms Offenders (Graves Extended); and Three Strikes.

An extended term can double one’s exposure, and even make a person eligible for lifetime imprisonment. If you or someone you love is extended term eligible, or you’re not sure if they are, contact Schiller McMahon today for a free, in-person consultation.