Degrees of Crimes New Jersey
Indictable Offenses & Punishments in Ocean County NJ
In New Jersey, being charged with a crime means that the State alleges that you committed a violation of the law. As a penalty for violating the law, the legislature has allotted permissible jail time associated with different crimes. The degree of the crime dictates the amount of jail time and the other potential penalties that a person can face if convicted. If your original charges are scheduled to be heard in the Superior Court, Criminal Division in the county in which the offense occurred, this means that you have been charged with an indictable crime (felony). Indictable offenses heard in Superior Court can be first, second, third, or fourth degree crimes and are punishable by state prison sentences. Non-indictable offenses, such as disorderly persons offenses, are usually heard in municipal court. A notice to attend municipal court means that you have been charged with a disorderly persons or petty persons disorderly offense (commonly referred to as misdemeanors in other states). Unlike felony offenses, disorderly persons offenses are punishable by a county jail sentence, not state prison.
If you have questions regarding the degree of the charges you are facing in Ocean County or elsewhere in New Jersey, the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are here to assist you. Contact our local office in Point Pleasant at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation about your specific case.
How do I Know if I Have Been Charged with an Indictable Offense in NJ?
Crimes range from first to fourth degree. If you have been charged with a crime and the complaint lists a crime of the fourth degree, third degree, second degree, or first degree, you are being charged with an indictable (felony) offense. Sometimes, there is simply a number 1, 2, 3, or 4 next to the charge, which essentially indicates the same thing.
Another easy way to know if what you have been charged with is an indictable offense is by the location of the court in which you have been notified to appear. If your court notice or warrant says that you are to appear in the Ocean County Superior Court, then you have likely been charged with an indictable offense. Alternatively, if you have been summoned to appear in municipal court, it is likely that you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. In other cases, you may be charged with both indictable and disorderly persons offenses. These will be heard together in the Superior Court if they involve the same facts or resulted from a single situation. For example, if you have been charged with possession of heroin (third degree crime) and possession of a needle (disorderly persons offense) the charges will be heard together in Superior Court.
What are the Possible Penalties for an Indictable Crime in New Jersey?
Depending of the degree of the crime, there are certain sentencing guidelines with ranges of prison time, fines, and other penalties. The potential sentence for each degree of indictable offense in New Jersey is set forth below:
- First degree crimes: 10-20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000
- Second degree crimes: 5-10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000
- Third degree crimes: 3-5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000
- Fourth degree crimes: 12-18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Do I Have to go to Prison for a Felony Charge in NJ?
While each crime exposes a person to a possible state prison term, probation, diversionary programs like Pretrial Intervention or Drug Court, and other options may be available depending on the facts of the specific case. For example, third and fourth degree crimes do not have a presumption of incarceration for first-time offenders, meaning probation or another alternative like PTI can be ordered without state prison. Conversely, first and second degree cases, if convicted, have a presumption of incarceration which means state prison is almost certain (with some exceptions).
Common Indictable Offenses in Ocean County
Drug charges are common in the Superior Court and most are third degree crimes. Possessing heroin, cocaine, Molly/Ecstasy, Xanax, Oxycodone, or any similar drugs for personal use is usually a third degree crime. If you have a larger quantity of drugs, you could be charged with a second degree crime. Drugs are prevalent in New Jersey and do make up the bulk of charges in Superior Court. However, there are other offenses that are commonly filed in Superior Court as well.
The following are some of the most common indictable offenses (felonies) resulting in arrests and criminal charges in New Jersey:
- Theft: taking any item or money that does not belong to you or that which you did not have permission to take. Theft can range from a disorderly persons offense to a second degree crime, depending on the value of the item(s) taken or the amount of money stolen;
- Shoplifting: taking, concealing, removing, under-ringing, not paying for, or otherwise attempting to deprive a store from the full value of merchandise. Shoplifting can be a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, depending on the actual monetary amount associated with the merchandise. Anything with a value less than $200 will be a disorderly persons offense; if the amount is $200-500, then shoplifting is a fourth degree crime; cases involving $500 to $75,000 worth of items results in charges for a third degree crime;
- Aggravated Assault: subjecting another to injury or pain by striking, hitting, kicking etc., attempting to do so, or placing someone in immediate fear for their safety. The degree of an assault depends on the injuries sustained and/or the identity of the alleged victim. Slapping someone may cause slight pain but may not cause serious injury, so this is typically considered “simple assault,” a disorderly persons offense. On the other hand, striking someone and breaking their nose may result in a third degree aggravated assault charge. Notably, assault on a police officer is always considered aggravated assault, an indictable offense.
- Forgery and Fraud Offenses: common examples including writing a bad check, using someone else’s account, or fraudulently using another’s credit card.
Point Pleasant NJ Indictable Crime Defense Lawyers
There are countless crimes for which you may face charges in Ocean County, which is why it is essential to consult an experienced attorney who can help you understand all the possible consequences of a plea or conviction for the charges you face and the options that may be available. If you want to obtain the best outcome in your case, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side is absolutely essential. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling criminal matters in Ocean County, including in Toms River, Seaside, Brick, Manchester, Jackson, and Berkeley Township. With numerous successful results in the form of dismissals, PTI enrollment, and negotiated agreements for clients who were otherwise facing lengthy prison sentences, our team is committed to providing top-notch defense representation. If you have been charged with a crime in Ocean County, contact us 24/7 for a free consultation.