Possible Outcomes for Criminal Defense Cases in New Jersey

The ultimate outcome of your Burlington County criminal matter will depend on the nature, circumstances and facts of your case. If you have been charged with a crime (or believe you may be), contact Rosenberg | Perry & Associates to discuss your case and learn your rights. Understanding the process helps better your defense.

Superior Court – Crimes

Juvenile in jailNew Jersey does not have “Felonies” or “Misdemeanors”. Rather, New Jersey characterizes its criminal conduct as “Crimes” (Felonies) and “Offenses” (misdemeanors). Criminal charges are heard in the Superior Court, Law Division and are more serious than non-criminal charges, which are heard in the Municipal Court where the offense occurred. Defendants found guilty, or “convicted” of crimes face more serious consequences, with punishments spanning probation supervision and fines to the loss of liberty through confinement for one (1) year or more.

Crimes are classified by degree. Degrees range from first to fourth degree offenses and carry the following potential penalties:

  1. First degree crimes carry the potential penalty of 10-20 years in state prison.
  2. Second degree crimes carry a potential penalty of 5-10 years in state prison.
  3. Third degree crimes carry a potential penalty of 3-5 years in state prison.
  4. Fourth degree crimes carry a potential penalty of up to 18 months in state prison.

Certain crimes carry more severe penalties than those set forth above. For example, murder carries with it a potential sentence of thirty (30) years to life, with thirty (30) years of parole ineligibility. Aggravated sexual assault when the victim is less than thirteen (13) years of age carries with it a potential penalty of twenty five (25) years to live, with twenty five (25) years of parole ineligibility.

All defendants who are convicted of first and second degree crimes face a presumptive term of incarceration, meaning it is presumed that they will be sentenced to serve time in prison. There is a presumption of non-imprisonment sentences on 3rd and 4th degree offenses.

Municipal Court – Offenses

Complaints heard in municipal courts are “disorderly persons” offenses or “petty disorderly persons” offenses, which carry less restrictive punishments upon conviction.

  • Disorderly persons offenses may be sentenced to up to 6 months in a county jail.
  • Petty disorderly convictions may be sentenced up to 30 days in county jail.

Diversionary Programs

New Jersey provides three (3) forms of diversionary programs that certain defendants are eligible for: the Pretrial Intervention Program (“PTI”), a Conditional Discharge and a Conditional Dismissal. While there are three (3) different diversionary programs, you are only eligible to utilize one (1) of them.

Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI): The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) is available in Superior Court. It provides defendants, generally first-time offenders, with opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process of ordinary prosecution. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior. The PTI program is based on a rehabilitative model that recognizes that there may be an apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative needs of a defendant. Further, the rehabilitative model emphasizes that social, cultural, and economic conditions often result in a defendant’s decision to commit crime. PTI strives to solve personal problems which tend to result from the conditions that appear to cause crime, and ultimately, to deter future criminal or disorderly behavior by a defendant.

Conditional Discharge (“CD”): A Conditional Discharge allows a defendant to stay and ultimately dismiss certain pending charges against him or her. The program is only available for drug possession or related drug charges that are in a New Jersey Municipal Court. A defendant is only eligible for a conditional discharge if they have not been previously convicted in any state of a drug offense or have not previously been granted a Conditional Discharge, Conditional Dismissal or Pre-Trial Intervention. If a defendant is eligible, his or her entry into the program is automatic. After the successful completion of the CD, the charges are dismissed. If a defendant violates the terms of the CD, the charges are re-opened and the defendant must face the charges anew.

Conditional Dismissal Program (“CDP”): The Conditional Dismissal Program is for first time offenders only and is available in Municipal Court. Entry into the program is not automatic, but rather must be approved by the Municipal Court Judge based on his/her evaluation of various factors. As a condition of a defendant’s entry into the CDP is that he/she must enter a guilty plea. They are then placed on a term of probation for one (1) year. If there is a violation of probation, the person can be brought back and re-sentenced because they have already entered a plea of guilty. If the defendant successfully completes the CDP, the charges are dismissed.


Probation is a sentencing alternative that provides selected offenders the opportunity to serve a criminal sentence in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. A sentence of probation may require an offender to pay fines or restitution or to seek counseling for substance abuse or mental health or family problems. Probation officers also arrange for and monitor community service work that is often required of offenders. The law permits a defendant to serve up to 364 days in the Burlington County Jail as a condition of probation.

County Jail and State Prison

County Jail: All sentences that are 364 days or less are served in the County Jail. In addition, all defendants detained pending trial are housed in the Burlington County Jail.

State Prison: All custodial sentences of a year or more are served in State Prison. New Jersey has thirteen (13) facilities across the state that house inmate serving state prison sentences.

For more information about all the possible outcomes of your specific criminal defense case, contact Rosenberg | Perry & Associates.