Under New Jersey law, first degree crimes are by far the worst crimes that individuals can be charged with. As you likely assume, the most serious consequences are reserved for those who commit the most serious crimes. Sometimes, this means that a person can spend the rest of their life behind bars, even if they have never committed a crime before. If you have been accused of or charged with a first degree crime in New Jersey, it is important to get a handle on your charges from the beginning. Just like taking a road trip, if you do not have control of the wheel, you cannot control the destination.
Need a Local Jersey City Lawyer for 1st Degree Criminal Charges
At William Proetta Criminal Law, our criminal attorneys have the knowledge required to steer your case in the right direction. With local offices in Jersey City, we have been fighting for the liberties of clients facing criminal charges in Hudson County, including Hoboken, Bayonne, Kearny, Union City, Jersey City, and North Bergen, for the entirety of our careers. To speak with a lawyer about your case involving first degree criminal charges for homicide, carjacking, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, or another offense, contact our office at (201)-793-8018 today. You can also request a free consultation online 24/7.
What Is a First Degree Felony in New Jersey?
In the State of New Jersey, you can be charged with a criminal offense if you have allegedly violated the law. Criminal charges are designated as either disorderly persons offenses or indictable crimes. Indictable are frequently referred to as “felony” crimes and the terms have the same meaning. These offenses are punishable by terms of incarceration in state prison.
The permissible prison terms are dependent upon the degree of the crime, as well as the prior criminal history of the defendant. Crimes are either of the fourth, third, second, or first degree. Fourth degree crimes are the lowest of all criminal offenses, whereas first are of the highest level with the harshest punishment. In addition, the nature and circumstances of the offense often influence the degree of crime that violates the statute applicable to a particular case. By way of example, a typical robbery will be charged as a second degree crime, but when a weapon is involved, it becomes a 1st degree criminal charge bearing harsher penalties. For convictions on crimes of first degree, you face mandatory incarceration in state prison.
What Is the Sentence for a 1st Degree Crime in NJ?
Generally, first degree crimes carry possible terms in state prison of 10 to 20 years. The term imposed upon conviction is based on the crime itself, as well as your prior history. Nevertheless, the sentencing range can be deceiving, as some first degrees can carry even more prison time than 20 years. For example, if you are found guilty of homicide, your minimum time in jail will be no less than 30 years. This should not be a surprise because if you are accused of taking someone’s life, the state undoubtedly punishes you accordingly.
To make matters worse, for some crimes such as murder or robbery, you are required to serve 85% of your sentence before you are eligible for parole. Serving 85% is a provision under NERA, otherwise known as The No Early Release Act. If you plead to a crime requiring a NERA sentence, not even the judge can allow your release before you serve 85% of the sentence. Other crimes such as carjacking are graded as 1st degree, but can move you out of the minimum sentencing range and bump your jail term to as much as 30 years. Similarly, if you are charged with kidnapping, the judge could sentence you to 25 years, requiring you to serve 25 years before eligible for parole.
Additional first degree felonies include aggravated sexual assault, large-scale drug distribution, arson (when the target is a house of worship or similar location, or you receive money in exchange for committing the crime), and maintaining a CDS production facility. Depending on the specific crime charged, it may have a unique sentence with the minimum term that must be imposed or served in accordance with law. Lastly, a conviction for a first degree crime allows the court to impose a fine of $200,000. Notably, some drug charges entail even heavier fines for those convicted. For most people, the fine is the least of their worries, as they are most concerned with the potential time behind bars.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your First Degree Criminal Case in Hudson County NJ
While you may not be able to do anything to prevent the first degree criminal charges already against you, you can do something about the attorney that you choose. You need someone that is dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced handling the most serious criminal cases in New Jersey. From the start of the case, you should have an aggressive defense lawyer who will fight for your freedom. The state has the right to file a motion with the court to detain you in jail while your case is pending. Unfortunately, the court can require you to remain behind bars until your case is tried, you plead guilty, or another outcome is reached. Then, you can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That’s where we come in.
Here’s an example of a case that we handled where the defendant was facing mandatory state prison time for a first degree robbery charge, that we were able to have downgraded to a disorderly persons offense for simple assault. The charges were then dismissed upon successful completion of probation. Read more about this case and how we attack the charges against our clients here: 1st Degree Robbery Downgraded to Simple Assault
Do not wait until the court holds you indefinitely and the full force of the criminal justice system bears down on your head. Call the local offices of William Proetta Criminal Law in Hudson County at (201)-793-8018 today. We can discuss your charges, evaluate the merits of the case against you, and map out the best plan for where you go from here.