The Consequences Of A Criminal Conviction


A criminal conviction can affect your life in many ways. New Jersey law imposes punishments like jail time and court fines for committing a crime, but you may face personal penalties for your actions. These are called collateral consequences and may make your life more challenging long after you complete your sentence.

Penalties and Fines in New Jersey

The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice separates crimes into two categories:

  • Disorderly persons offenses – The equivalent of a misdemeanor in other states, a disorderly persons offense involves less severe criminal actions, such as petty theft, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, simple assault, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Indictable crimes – These offenses are like felony crimes in other states, such as murder, kidnapping, rape, sex crimes, manslaughter, robbery, arson, and aggravated assault.

The penalties for disorderly persons offenses include up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Indictable crimes are separated into classes. Sentences vary based on the degree of the offense:

  • First-degree indictable offense – 10 to 20 years and up to a $250,000 fine (some crimes like murder can carry a maximum sentence of life)
  • Second-degree indictable offense – 5 to 10 years in prison and up to a 150,000 fine
  • Third-degree indictable offense – 3 to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine
  • Fourth-degree indictable offense – Up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine

NJ Criminal Convictions: Collateral Consequences

The consequences of being convicted of a crime are far-reaching. Besides having a criminal record, you could lose certain rights, such as:

  • The right to vote (until your sentence is complete)
  • Ability to own or possess a firearm
  • Loss of driving privileges

A conviction could also impact your:

  • Employment
  • Immigration status
  • Child custody or visitation rights
  • Any professional certifications or licenses
  • Ability to rent an apartment
  • Ability to get loans to buy a house or car
  • College or higher education opportunities
  • Pensions (for public employees)

With such high stakes, it’s critical to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can determine the best strategy to address the charges against you.

Can I Clean my Criminal Record?

New Jersey allows individuals convicted of certain crimes to have them expunged from their records. Expungement means that your criminal records are removed, isolated, or sealed by a court, detention, or correctional facility.

If you are eligible, expungement can remove information concerning your:

  • Arrest
  • The outcome of court cases
  • A criminal or juvenile conviction
  • All court proceedings

However, not all crimes are eligible for expungement. You cannot expunge crimes such as:

  • Homicide (except death by automobile)
  • Arson
  • Perjury
  • Aggravated assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Sex crimes
  • Child pornography
  • Human trafficking
  • Endangering the welfare of a child
  • Terrorism
  • And more

A criminal record lawyer can review your case if you have questions about whether your conviction qualifies for expungement. An attorney can also prepare and submit the documents requesting an expungement for you.

Contact an NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer Now

Life with a criminal record can be hard. The best way to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction is to hire a skilled lawyer who can provide hard-hitting representation when you need it most.

William Proetta Criminal Law is a tough criminal defense firm representing clients in Union, Hudson, Middlesex, and Ocean counties. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the criminal justice system. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.

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.