How To Fight Felony Charges

NJ Marijuana Possession Charges

New Jersey felony charges are termed “Indictable Offenses”.
These are the most serious charges that you can face.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the judge has no choice but to sentence you to prison.
We’ve put together everything you need to know regarding Felony (Indictable) offenses in New Jersey.


Felony charges in New Jersey carry serious consequences.
In addition to facing incarceration, you may lose your job, kicked out of school, or get deported.
However, depending on your “life-situation” you may qualify for a relatively easy way out.
We’ve prepared a step-by-step guide to help you understand your felony charges.
If you or a loved one is facing felony charges, this guide will aid you in clearing up any confusion.
Remember, felony charges have serious consequences and if you ever needed the help of a lawyer, now is the time.

STEP 1: Identify Your Felony Charges

New Jersey felony offenses are divided into four categories. They are:
1) 1st-degree
3) 3rd-degree and
4) 4th-degree.
You will find the type & degree of crime you are charged with on your Criminal Complaint. In our example, you will see: NJSA 2C:35-10A(1) charged as a 3rd-degree felony.
This defendant has other charges but they are Disorderly Persons Offenses (misdemeanors). We discuss this more here:

STEP 2: Understand Your Felony Charges

Now that you know if you are charged with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th-degree felony,
you can refer to the chart below.
Here you can see examples and the minimum to maximum prison terms & fines imposed.

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines



1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses.


2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.


3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with 3rd-degree.


4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. But if you have a really good lawyer, he may be able to your case “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.

  • Drug Possession
  • Lewdness
  •  Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Criminal Mischief

Certain Factors Will Affect Your Felony Case

In addition to prison, serious felony charges carry other potential dangers.
Certain crimes have strict prison terms and mandatory minimums.
Also, specific sex felony charges impose lifetime supervision or sex offender registration.

If you used your “get out of jail free” card already, then you no longer have this option in New Jersey.
Please know that NJ looks at your criminal records from other states.

The No Early Release Act, also known as NERA, means that you will have to serve 85% of your prison term before you are eligible for parole.

If your case involves a weapon, then the Graves Act is triggered and you’ll be facing certain “Mandatory Minimums”.

If you are facing a felony charge involving any type of “sex crime”, then upon conviction you will be sentenced to fifteen years of sex offender registration.

Certain violent felony charges require that you be supervised for your entire life.
This means that even after you serve your prison sentence, you still have to report to your parole officer for the remainder of your life.

STEP 3: Factors Affecting Felony Plea Deals

Now that you’ve identified your felony charges and learned more about them, the next step will be to look at your “life-situation”.
There are many factors to consider regarding your felony charges.
Your circumstances with limit your legal defenses and strategies .
For example, are you a college student or do you have a professional license i.e., nurse, realtor, stock-broker, teacher etc.?
Do you have a duty to self-report?
Alternatively, you need to be aware of your immigration status and any immigration consequences related to your criminal matter.
Another consider is to look back over the course of your life.
Have you ever been arrested before?
If so, for what?
And what happened to that case?
Do you have any paperwork from your previous arrest?

What's Your Situation?

If you are a United States citizen, then this category shouldn’t be of much concern.
However, if you are here on a visa, a lawful permanent resident (LPR), or do not have a legal status, then you should be very concerned about your criminal arrest & conviction.

If you have a clean record (never been arrested) then you have the most options.
However, if you have a prior conviction (in any state), then you need to determine what type of conviction you have on your record.
For example, were you arrested as a juvenile or as an adult?
Is it a felony or misdemeanor conviction?
Prior convictions limit your options.
We may not be able to get you the same plea deal had your record been completely clean.
Also, if you have a felony charge on your record, you may not qualify for probation.

Certain careers require you to “self-report” in the event of an arrest or conviction.
Also, depending on the type of license you hold, then you will be limited in your plea-bargaining options.
One of the first things we need to know is how their felony charges will directly affect their career.

Different educational institutions also require you to “self-report” in the event of an arrest or conviction.
Depending on the type of school you are enrolled in,  you will be limited in your plea-bargaining options.
Many colleges and nursing schools have their own internal hearing process.
Your criminal defense attorney should be aware of this and involved in any administrative disciplinary hearings.

For many government employees a felony charge arrest will result in immediate termination.
Public officials facing felony charges will also lose their positions upon receiving a felony conviction.
You must be aware of the direct & collateral consequences related to your felony charge.

STEP 4: Are You Eligible For A "Diversion"?

Simply put, a diversion is a way out of your felony charge.
In New Jersey, you can avoid going to trial & going to prison (if convicted) by entering into one of various probationary programs.
Each program differs but you generally need to have a clean record to qualify.

Top 3 Ways To Avoid Jail In New Jersey

Pretrial Intervention (PTI), Probation, and Drug Court are three different ways to avoid jail.
These alternatives offer a way out while avoiding trial.
Your choice of program will depend on many factors.
Below you will find basic information with links to more in-depth pages.

Pretrial Intervention

This is your first choice.
We refer to it as your one and only “get of jail free card”.
Here’s an entire section dedicated to pretrial intervention:
PTI: Everything You Need To Know in 5 Minutes!


Probation in New Jersey is another way to avoid seeing the inside of jail.
It works slightly differently than PTI because you would have to enter a “guilty plea” to either the felony charge or an amended felony charge.
Instead of incarceration, you will be sentenced to a period of probation.
Indeed, you will have to pay restitution, fines, & complete community service.

Drug Court

New Jersey Drug court recognizes that people commit crimes while they are drunk or high.
The purpose of this program is not to punish the person facing the felony charge.
Rather, it is an intensive rehabilitative program whose aim focuses on helping alcohol & drug addicts recover from their addiction.
What Is Drug Court & How Does It Work?

STEP 5: Find An Experienced Felony Laywer

So what’s the best way to get you the best result possible?
If you’ve read this far, then you learned that there are many factors to consider when discussing your felony charges.
Our best advice is that you seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you.
Just like us, many criminal lawyers offer free consultations.
Your criminal defense attorney will listen to your side of the story, guide you through the process, advocate on your behalf, and work tirelessly to get you the best result possible.

Please visit the Areas We Serve & Practice Areas pages for more information.


Take Advantage Of Our FREE Consultations

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

Our Practice Areas

Below you will find some but not all of our practice areas. Of course, if you do not see your criminal charges listed, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We will meet with you to discuss your case & to answer all of your legal concerns. Se habla español tambien!

Areas We Serve

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
Based on 141 reviews
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I recently got into some legal trouble and was in the need of an attorney fast. Choosing a good attorney, is step 1 in achieving a favorable outcome in any case. And thankfully I made the right choice in choosing Peyrouton Law. Allan and his team are great. They set my mind at ease and they were there with me every step of the way. Allan and Samera always made themselves available for any questions or concerns I had and worked very hard to get me the best possible outcome in my case. They were very affordable and their service far exceeded the price. Thank you Peyrouton Law!
Nikki Pergaminos
Nikki Pergaminos
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Mr. Peyrouton has been my attorney for the last ten years. He is very knowledgeable and has always been accessible. I am proud to know him and have him as my lawyer.
Erin Marrero
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Super Helpful!!A few months ago my husband and I received a BOGUS! speed ticket. Came here explaining our situation long story short ! The ticket was dismissed and I would definitely recommend to anyone seeking professional help.
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Joy Alarcon
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Recently I had a need for a criminal attorney and I hired Peyrouton Law Firm. This was a very stressful situation for me to go through however the entire time I had great service and quick response from this law firm. I received exceptional service also from Samera of their legal team/ paralegal staff.She provided me with steps of the entire process and gave me information to put me at ease. Thankfully my issue is resolved now and I am recommending them to all of my friends and family.
johon cano
johon cano
01:10 10 Feb 21
I had got myself into some serious trouble with criminal charges and was going to lose my awesome job because you cant have a criminal conviction on your record at my job.First I went to some jersey city lawyer who treated me horribly and tried to scare me into paying an inflated fee! my mom was with me and he was even rude to her because she has an accent.We left his office and googled more lawyersWe got really lucky when we found Alan.The guy is so awesome!He fought for me at a third of the price of the other lawyer and I was able to keep my job.He's a gentleman fighter and I totally recommend him.
Madelyn Abdalla
Madelyn Abdalla
00:40 10 Feb 21
Last year was such a difficult year for all of us with the rise of Covid-19 and the pandemic. Most businesses and the Courts were closed for months! If you had a legal matter pending during that time...trying to speak to a live person at the Court to get information or questions answered was nearly impossible! So I finally decided to hire an attorney to help! Alan and Samera are such an amazing team. They took my case and started working on it from day one! They constantly corresponded with the Court through fax and email to stay on top of my case. They made several calls throughout the day and did not stop until someone picked up or called back with information on my case. They always kept me updated and were always so nice to me. My case was over a year old and nothing was being done. As soon as I hired Alan, it was closed within 3 months!!! I'm speechless. Thank you both for doing such great work and for being so diligent. And the result was the icing on the cake! God bless and stay safe.
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Thank you Alan for saving the day...again! Lol From criminal cases to traffic tickets to immigration issues always come through for me! And you always get the best results! I wish you more and more success! You'll always have me as a client and as a referral!

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.

c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines



1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.


2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.


3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.


4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.