Felonies, Misdemeanors and Punishments in New Jersey

Felonies and Misdemeanors in New Jersey

Simply stated, New Jersey does not have felonies or misdemeanors.  New Jersey defines unlawful conduct as “crimes” or “offenses”. Crimes and offenses are categorized in New Jersey in terms of “degrees”, “disorderly persons” offenses or “petty disorderly persons” offenses. The criminal code provides for First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree crimes. First-degree charges are the most serious and Fourth Degree are the least. The criminal code also provides for Disorderly Persons (“DP”) and Petty Disorderly Persons (“PDP”) offenses. Petty Disorderly Person offenses are the least serious offenses.

Possible Punishment for Crimes and Offense

  • First Degree Crimes are punishable by 10-20 years in prison.
  • Second Degree Crimes are punishable by 5-10 years in prison.
  • Third Degree Crimes are punishable by 3-5 years in prison.
  • Fourth Degree Crimes are punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
  • Petty disorderly person offenses are punishable by up to 30 days in jail
  • Disorderly person offenses are punishable by up to six months in jail

Diversionary Programs

Certain defendants are eligible to avoid typical punishments and enter diversionary programs.  If you are charged with a crime or offense in Burlington County, you should speak with a Burlington County Criminal Lawyer to go over your case.  An experienced attorney will help you evaluate your options and determine if you are eligible for a diversionary program, such as a conditional discharge or Pre-trial Intervention (PTI).  There is also a new program that has recently been established in the New Jersey called the “conditional dismissal” program.  Each of these programs have different pros and cons.  They are also only available in certain circumstances.

Criminal Statute of Limitations

New Jersey law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. A criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The time limitations are set forth in the criminal code and are as follows:

  • Murder, manslaughter, sexual assault, terrorism, widespread injury or damage – No time limit
  • Most Crimes – 5 years
  • Bribery of government official, official misconduct, other related offenses – 7 years
  • DP or PDP – 1 year