Second Degree Crimes, Felony Charges & Penalties


Criminal Attorneys Defending 2nd Degree Indictable Offenses in Toms River NJ

While some states divide crimes into felonies and misdemeanors, New Jersey categorizes the equivalents into indictable crimes and disorderly persons offenses. Within these two divisions, however, are subcategories of legal violations. For instance, the legal codes grade indictable crimes by severity of the criminal behavior against a victim and society. So, the New Jersey criminal statutes list first, second-, third-, and fourth-degree indictable crimes, with the most serious crimes at the top and the less serious at the bottom. To illustrate, first degree crimes like murder and carjacking, are the worst crimes one can commit against another individual, and so, the punishment is the most severe, up to life in prison for certain offenses and incredibly high fines. A second degree crime is one level below a first, making it the second-most serious type of felony offense you can be charged with in New Jersey.

What Crimes are Second Degree Felony in New Jersey?

Second degree crimes also include some heinous acts committed against others, like aggravated assault, robbery, armed burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm or other weapon, theft by extortion, and sexual assault. Other second degree crimes include possessing a handgun for illegal purposes, eluding a police officer, some drug distribution crimes, theft of services exceeding $75,000, theft by deception valued over $75,000.00, and committing illegal drug crimes while in possession of a weapon.

How Bad is a 2nd Degree Crime in NJ – What are the Penalties?

If convicted of a second degree crime, a person can expect a sentence of anywhere from five (5) to ten (10) years in prison and paying, at most, $150,000.00 in fines. However, for some drug charges, like distributing and dispensing certain dangerous illegal drugs, a judge can sentence a convicted drug dealer to pay fines as high as $300,000.00. For example, selling a half-ounce of methamphetamine can land a convicted felon in prison for ten years with a $300,000.00 fine to pay. Whether a drug distribution charge is a first-, second- or third-degree crime depends on the type of drug and the amount. But anyone convicted of a second-degree crime can expect to serve a prison term, as such crimes come with a presumption of incarceration.

And while robbery, extortion, or sexual assault are second degree crimes that carry a five to ten-year prison sentence, those convicted of these crimes must complete 85% of their prison sentence before they are eligible for parole. Thus, if a convicted defendant receives a sentence of ten years in prison, they cannot be released on parole before serving 8.5 years. New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA) pertains to specified first and second degree crimes for which the legislature has mandated a minimum prison sentence. Ordinarily, prisoners sentenced to a term can get released early for good behavior and work credits, completing only one-half or a third of their term. NERA eliminated that option for the crimes listed in the Act.

Aside from NERA, the Graves Act governs the sentencing of certain crimes, like second degree illegal possession of a handgun. To lawfully own a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, a New Jersey resident must apply for a permit and firearms purchaser identification card to be licensed to own a firearm or similar weapon. And if the applicant is a person prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm or weapon, they will be denied a permit to own a gun or other weapon. Having a gun without the proper papers and authorization or while suffering a mental illness is illegal and subject to the Graves Act. The law mandates minimum sentences for these violations. Under the Act, a conviction for second degree illegal possession of a weapon or firearm results in a prison term for which one-third to one-half or minimally three years must be served. Like NERA, the convicted defendant must serve the mandated minimum regardless of good behavior and work credits. It is possible that you may be able to avoid prison through PTI for Ocean County Gun Charges, but this type of outcome is a lengthy and difficult process, best handled by a criminal defense attorney with experience securing Graves Act Waivers in gun cases.

Charged with a Second Degree Felony in Ocean County, Now What?

The law takes a tough stance against those caught committing second degree crimes. With the presumption of prison, mandatory minimums, and near-maximum prison term service, a defendant faces an uphill battle to avoid losing their liberty, money, and prospects. Going to prison can mean loss of future employment opportunities, limited housing options, and social stigma. A criminal record has long-term detrimental consequences. And just getting through the legal process in the superior court means time and stress, with fear of the outcome. When charged, an accused person charged with a 2nd degree felony can often be detained in the local Ocean County Jail pending trial if not released by a judge at a detention hearing. But as a defendant, you do have opportunities to negotiate a better deal than what the law prescribes or the prosecutor recommends for second degree charges and sentencing.

Before being indicted by a grand jury, our attorneys can begin negotiations with the prosecutor to resolve the criminal action against you. If you are looking to achieve a favorable result that serves your best interests, it is not smart to face the prosecutor alone. Instead, have an attorney on your side to negotiate for you and first, to meticulously review the evidence in your case to find potential defenses that open the door for a dismissal. At William Proetta Criminal Law, the criminal defense lawyers on our legal team have an intimate understanding of the law and legal process, which we use for the purposes of reducing or even dismissing felony charges against our clients on a regular basis. If there are missing pieces or vulnerabilities in the prosecutor’s case, trust and believe we will find them. Whether we are negotiating a plea deal that gets our clients probation or barely any time in jail, bringing motions for suppressing illegally-obtained evidence, litigating the case at trial, or helping our clients divert their cases through Pre-Trial Intervention or Drug Court, we don’t stop working from the moment we take the case.

If you are at the beginning stages of being investigated or questioned, or you are further down the line and have recently been indicted, we zealously represent you through the various stages of a criminal case through the legal system: from arraignment, to pretrial conferences, and trial. All offer us opportunities to narrow the prosecution’s case or negotiate a better deal for our client. One significant push may be convincing the prosecutor to allow a first-time offender client to complete the Pretrial Intervention Program available at the superior court. After being approved, a defendant may enroll in the program and after completing the program, they can leave the legal system without a felony record.

Facing Charges for a 2nd Degree Crime in Ocean County, Need a Lawyer

If the police arrested you for a second degree crime in Toms River, Jackson, Manchester, Brick, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Berkeley Township, or another South Jersey town, your chances are better to avoid the worst penalties after consulting an attorney. We are a dedicated team of criminal defense lawyers who have successfully defended numerous clients accused of committing second degree and other felony crimes throughout Ocean County, NJ. You and your family deserve the most vigorous defense by someone who can reduce the prosecutor’s ability to prove their case and protect your due process rights. Contact our office at (848)-238-2100 for a free legal consultation today.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.