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New Jersey Crime Degrees Made Simple

Top Rated NJ Criminal Lawyer

New Jersey crime degrees are simple to understand.
Remember this: first is the worst!
First-degree charges carry the maximum penalties.
These charges carry ten-year mandatory minimum prison terms.
Fourth-degree charges are the least serious. You face up to 18 months.

In Jersey, we don't use the word felony

In Jersey, we don’t use the word felony.
We do not use the term “Felony” to designate the most serious type of crime degree.
Instead, we the term for a felony is “Indictable Offense”.
If you face prison time, you are facing an “Indictable Offense”.  Makes sense?

Crime Degrees & The Presumption of Incarceration

1st & 2nd- Degree Charges have a “Presumption of Incarceration”.

This means that if you are found guilty or plead guilty to either a First or Second Degree crime, you must go to prison. The judge does not have discretion and incarceration is mandatory.

3rd & 4th- Degree Charges – generally do not have a Presumption of Incarceration. 

This means that the sentencing judge may have discretion and incarceration may not be mandatory. 

Getting sentenced to prison depends on many factors. If you have a lengthy criminal record and keep committing crimes, prison may be the only remedy.

We have provided a quick reference chart below.

Other States
New Jersey
Degree
Presumption of Incarceration
Prison Time
Felony
Indictable Offense
First
                Yes
10 + years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Second
                Yes
5 – 10 years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Third
                 No
3-5 years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Fourth
                 No
Up to 18 months

Crime Degrees & Prison Terms

The lower the number, the greater prison time you face.

Remember we said that first is the worst? Here’s another chart to help you.

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

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.

Second-Degree

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

Third-Degree

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

Fourth-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.

What about non-Felony charges?

  • The majority of other states use the term “Misdemeanor” to designate Minor criminal offenses.

In New Jersey, we use the terms “Disorderly Persons Offenses & Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses” when we refer to minor criminal offenses.

Penalties in New Jersey for Misdemeanors
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – up to six months in jail & $1,000- fine.
  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – up to 30 days in jail & $500- fine.

New Jersey Municipal courts are the most heavily trafficked courts in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey is home to over 560 municipalities. Each municipality has its own Municipal Court. Hundreds of thousands of cases are resolved at the Municipal Court level in New Jersey each year.

Marijuana Possession, Simple Assault, and Terroristic Threats are common misdemeanor charges in this state.

Another common misconception is that a DUI conviction in New Jersey is a felony. While 46 other states in the country have “felonized” DUIs, New Jersey still treats DUI convictions as Title 39 – traffic offenses. A DUI conviction or guilty plea will expose a defendant to jail time, but it will not appear on a criminal background check. But will a DUI affect employment?

Disorderly Persons Offenses and Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses WILL appear on a criminal background check. If you are found guilty or plead guilty to one of these offenses, he/she must wait five years and all fines must be paid before the conviction can be expunged.

Laws That Worsen Your Prison Sentence

The New Jersey Graves Act - N.J.S.A. 2C: 43-6

Anytime a gun comes into the picture, The Graves Act is triggered (No Pun Intended).

The Graves Act stands for the proposition that if a defendant pleads guilty OR is found guilty of a crime involving a gun, then the court must impose mandatory prison sentences and parole ineligibility. A person may have a stellar academic record and a completely clean criminal record, but it does not matter. There are no exceptions.

We have successfully represented clients facing serious mandatory prison time with both NERA & Graves Act sentencing enhancements.

These cases are extremely complicated and sensitive given the nature of the underlying crime and the State imposed mandatory minimums.

There are many factors that are to be considered in formulating a strategy when representing clients charged with these crimes.

Please schedule an appointment with us today so that we can explain how to go about obtaining a “Graves Act Waiver” and even pursuing a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) diverson to avoid prison altogether.

Crime Degrees Combined with NERA

In New Jersey, convictions for certain crimes result in a sentence imposed pursuant to the No Early Release Act (“NERA”). N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

You will have to serve 85% of your prison term before becoming eligible for parole.

The following are some of the crimes that trigger NERA:

*PLEASE NOTE: There are many more crimes which involve NERA.

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 criminal lawyers in the Hackensack 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
4.9
Based on 260 reviews
Christopher Guichardo
Christopher Guichardo
1714609513
Alan is an excellent lawyer. He helped me with my first case. He is very knowledgeable and explained everything to me throughout the process. I would recommend him to anyone looking for an honest and professional lawyer.
LGL Trucking Services LLC
LGL Trucking Services LLC
1714317166
Attorney Alan Peyrouton , hasta el día de hoy podría decir que es el mejor abogado que he visto y he conocido , nos ayudó con un caso que pensamos que iba a ser perdido , pensamos que era imposible conseguir ganarlo pero el nos ayudó a ganar un caso de DWI con licencia comercial CDL , estamos muy agradecidos con Alan en verdad un abogado muy profesional y con muchos conocimientos . Lo recomiendo a cualquiera que necesite ayuda profesional .
Ludimila Araujo
Ludimila Araujo
1714147877
My experience with Alan was amazing, I only have positive thinks to mention about him, he knows the law by heart, he speak Spanish, he’s more than smart, he’s a really good human being , he’s really polite, he’s responsible and dedicated to all his clients.My husbands case was really delicate, we were really afraid he would lose his license for a year, which is how we eat, since his a cdl driver, but thanks to Alan we can breathe and sleep peaceful at night, Alan is so good at his job that he got his case dismissed.His better than the lawyer from SUITS, he’s real!Thank you Alan you are amazing, the best of the best!If anyone needs a lawyer, a good lawyer call Alan!
Denisa Gjana
Denisa Gjana
1714083683
Alan is an excellent attorney, empathic and also caring. If you are looking for an attorney who is knowledgeable and knows what he is doing then don’t hesitate and hire him. His prices are reasonable and affordable. He got me out of the legal situation which was very stressful for me and I can’t thank him enough. He explained things thoroughly to me a few times and answered all of the questions and concerns I had. I highly recommend him! Thank you for being responsive and helpful Alan.
Cnidia Vazquez
Cnidia Vazquez
1713917822
Very profesional, makes the right questions during court.Muy profesional, meticuloso, amable, paciente e inteligente. Hizo un trabajo excepcional, el caso salio a mi favor gracias a su dedicacion y amor a su trabajo. Estoy muy agradecida por lo que hizo! Lo recomiendo 100%
Ronald Yee
Ronald Yee
1713913925
After almost four years ago, Payrouton Law, LLC. was engaged to defend the writer against a serious legal issue which could have ended with incarceration as well as a hefty fine. The settlementwas one-half of the posted fine without incarceration! In additionit was advised that within two years of the court decree, proceedings to get "Expungement," was possible making clean all N.J. State Police Records, as if the incident Never Happened.All this time working for and on my behalf, this law firm labored and negotiated all proceedings to gain benefit of a clean record.The N.J. State Police took almost two years and now receiving a verbal communication confirming Records Finally Expunged is all due to the hard work and legal expertise of Payrouton Law.One can not go wrong by retaining Payrouton Law, LLC. to solve legal problems and issues.This law firm is Exceedingly Outstanding In Every Way!!Thank you for all your hard work and efforts for and onmy behalf!!!Respectfully submitted,Ronald Yee- Client.
Maria Feliz
Maria Feliz
1713913413
Alan really helped me out of a delicate situation and made sure the final outcome was in my favor. I choose him based on prior reviews and took a chance and he turned out to be the real thing always looking out for his clients.
Jazziel Lopez
Jazziel Lopez
1713667840
Excellent lawyer , Alan was by far great help with my case. Thank you for being so responsive to my self and my fiancée when we needed help the most. He sure helped me solve my case I highly recommend Alan Payruton. The best of the best .
Michelle Lainez
Michelle Lainez
1713483854
Amazing lawyer, I am thankful and grateful for Alan words can’t explain how he help me and my finance at our most desperate moment. He made sure that we could count on him and assured us that he would make thing better which he did!!!I 💯 recommend him he will not let you down. Alan once again thank you for everything you have been a blessing!
Kyle Haller
Kyle Haller
1713481041
Alan was by far the most effective and professional lawyer i have ever delt with. He is extremely responsive and effective in conversation. It was a pleasure choosing him to defend me and I would recommend him to all my family and friends.
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