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New Jersey Felony Laws VS Misdemeanor Laws

Legal Blog

You may know that there are two levels of criminal charges, felonies, and misdemeanors. However, what you may not know is what makes a crime one or the other. What crimes are misdemeanors? What crimes are felonies? Are the penalties for felonies and misdemeanors different? How does a felony or misdemeanor effect your future? This article will shed some light on these topics as well as New Jersey felony laws.

New Jersey is Different

New Jersey felony laws classify a felony offense as an “indictable” offense. They do no use the term felony, unlike almost every other state. The same is true with misdemeanors. New Jersey refers to misdemeanors as a “disorderly person” crime. Why they refer to crimes in this way is a mystery. The additional names only cause more confusion.

New Jersey Felony Laws

New Jersey classifies felonies by degrees. There are four degrees of felony charges in New Jersey. The first degree contains the most serious crimes while the fourth degree is for the least serious crimes. “Indictable” means that a grand jury must indict you to proceed with the case. To receive an indictment, a grand jury must review the details of the case and determine if they feel that there is enough evidence to support criminal charges. If the grand jury decides that there is sufficient evidence they will produce a written statement which is called an indictment.

New Jersey Felony Laws: Crimes

  • First-degree crimes in New Jersey include rape, manslaughter, and murder.
  • Second-degree crimes include aggravated arson, kidnapping, sex crimes, white collar crimes, and drug crimes.
  • Third-degree crimes are arson, possession of a controlled substance, certain robbery offenses, as well as some DUI offenses.
  • Fourth-degree crimes include the remaining robbery and DUI offenses as well as forgery.

New Jersey Felony Laws: Punishments

  • First Degree Crimes: The prison sentence for a first-degree crime is between ten years and a lifetime sentence depending on the offense. Also, a court can impose a maximum fine of up to $200,000.
  • Second Degree Crimes: For a second-degree felony the court can impose a prison sentence between five and ten years and a fine up to $150,000.
  • Third Degree Crimes: A court has the power to sentence someone with a third-degree conviction to three to five years in prison as well as a fine up to $15,000.
  • Fourth Degree Crimes: A fourth-degree conviction can result in a prison sentence up to 18 months and a fine up to $10,000.

New Jersey Misdemeanor Laws

New Jersey refers to misdemeanors as “disorderly person” crimes. These offenses range in severity. There are two classifications for misdemeanors in New Jersey, disorderly person offenses, and petty disorderly person offenses. While it is not as common to serve jail time for misdemeanor offenses as it is with felonies, it is still possible.

New Jersey Misdemeanor: Crimes

  • Disorderly Person: The disorderly person classification is the more serious of the two misdemeanor classifications. The crimes include assault, shoplifting, possession of marijuana under 50 grams, and resisting arrest.
  • Petty Disorderly Person: A petty disorderly crime is the lowest level crime that can result in jail time in New Jersey. These offenses include disorderly conduct and harassment.

New Jersey Misdemeanor: Punishments

  • Disorderly person charges can result in jail time up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Petty disorderly person charges include a maximum jail sentence of 30 days as well as a $500 maximum fine.

Potential Effects of Felonies and Misdemeanors

Misdemeanor convictions rarely result in lasting affects to your life and ability to obtain employment. However, these charges will appear on your criminal record. It is easier to expunge a misdemeanor from your record than it is a felony.

A felony, however, can greatly impact your future. It may be much more difficult to find a job with a felony on your record. You will also lose some of your rights including the right to vote and own a firearm.

If you are facing any criminal charges it is important that you discuss your options with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney can help you figure out the best way to move forward with your case. A defense attorney increases the likelihood of a  favorable plea bargain or verdict in your case.

Contact Douglas Herring today to learn how he can help you. Attorney Herring is an experienced New Jersey defense attorney. With years of experience, he will aggressively defend you and your future.

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