What is the No Early Release Act? (NERA)
The No Early Release Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2) was passed in New Jersey in 1997. NERA states that if a person is convicted for a violent crime in the first or second degree they must serve at least 85% of their sentence. This time frame is considered the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment under NERA. This means if you are sentenced to 10 years for a violent crime you must serve at least 8.5 years before you can be considered for parole.
What Counts as a Violent Crime?
Violent crimes can be defined as any criminal activity that causes serious injury or death to a victim. Also if the criminal act threatens a person with “the immediate use of a deadly weapon”. Deadly weapons include:
- substances that can be used with the intention of harming someone.
Crimes That Fall Under NERA
New Jersey’s No Early Release Act applies to a certain group of first and second-degree violent crimes. Third and fourth-degree crimes do not fall under the sentencing requirements of NERA.
Crimes that do fall under NERA include:
- murder/manslaughter/aggravated manslaughter/vehicular homicide
- aggravated assault/sexual assault/aggravated sexual assault
- robbery/burglary (2nd degree)/carjacking
- firearm trafficking
- booby-trapping a drug manufacturing facility
- disarming a law enforcement officer
NERA provisions are mandatory for these crimes. Anyone charged with “attempting to commit” or “conspiring to commit” any of these crimes may also be sentenced under NERA sentencing requirements.
If the case goes to trial and a guilty verdict is determined, the prosecutor must provide written notice that the defendant is subject to the No Early Release Act. If the defendant pleads guilty to a second-degree crime that is amended to a third-degree crime, the court will be required to state the term of imprisonment.
Additionally, if the defendant pleads guilty the court is required to inform them about the conditions of their parole. They must tell the defendant that if their parole terms are violated the period of supervision can last longer then the original sentence.
Protecting Yourself in a NERA Case
Violent crimes are serious offenses with serious consequences. If you have been accused of a crime that you believe is subject to the No Early Release Act it’s important to immediately seek proper legal representation. Failing to seek out legal representation may lead to the lengthy sentences associated with NERA.
The defense lawyers at Rosenberg | Perry & Associates are committed to your criminal defense and protecting your rights. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime that falls under the No Early Release Act speak with Rosenberg | Perry & Associates. You can call us at (609) 216-7400 for a free consultation to speak about the details of your case.