New Jersey has one of the strictest mandatory sentencing systems in the United States. Unlike most states, crimes are not divided into felonies and misdemeanors, but indictable offenses and disorderly person offenses. Indictable offenses are the equivalent of a felony, as the sentence is a minimum of one year in prison.
Serious crimes in the state are known as indictable offenses which can be separated into first, second, third and fourth degree charges. First, second, and third degree charges are what are usually known as felony convictions in most jurisdictions. These crimes are tried in Superior Court, while fourth degree crimes are tried in Superior or Municipal Court. This means that defendants have the right to have their case presented to a grand jury, which is a panel of 23 citizens who decide if there is enough evidence for the state to prosecute.
The following are the most common indictable charges in New Jersey.
The penalty for an indictable offense depends on the charge and the degree. First degree crimes may have a prison sentence of 10-20 years or between 20 years and life for some crimes like murder. The fine for this charge may be as high as $200,000. A second degree crime may have a prison sentence of 5-10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. A third degree indictable offense carries a prison sentence of 3-5 years and a fine of up to $15,000. A fourth degree charge carries a sentence of 12-18 months and a fine of up to $10,000.
A conviction for any indictable crime in New Jersey will become a part of your permanent record. If you are later convicted of another indictable crime (felony), your prior conviction can be considered for even higher penalties. This record can have long-lasting consequences and impact you when you are trying to rent a home or find a job. As a convicted felon, you will also lose your right to carry a firearm, vote, and obtain some professional licenses.
If you are facing a charge for an indictable offense, an experienced defense attorney can help you protect your rights and fight to have your charges dismissed, explore your plea options, and represent you at trial. Contact Mark A. Bernstein today at (609) 665-3338 for a free consultation to discuss your case.