Felonies in New Jersey
Felonies in New Jersey are referred to as indictable offenses. Indictable offenses carry the potential of at least a six month prison sentence and often limit a person’s professional opportunities due to their criminal record.
There are varying degrees of indictable offenses based on the specific crime committed; examples include:
- First degree: murder, armed robbery, aggravated sexual assault
- Second degree: various weapons charges, aggravated arson
- Third degree: shoplifting between $500 and $75,000, heroin or cocaine possession, vehicular assault
- Fourth degree: stalking, violating a restraining order, illegal possession of prescription drugs
In addition to a prison sentence, a felony can also result in heavy fines, probation, and community service.
Downgrading an Indictable Offense
If the charge is not dismissed, a primary aim of your legal team will be to downgrade the indictable offense to a disorderly persons offense. From there, the case may be transferred to the municipal court.
Downgrading an indictable offense is up to the prosecutor, so a skilled lawyer will seek to provide a number of reasons why the charge should be downgraded, potentially explaining issues in the prosecutor’s case and demonstrating the defendant’s lack of criminal history, if applicable.
Another factor that can result in a downgrade is if the charge is just above a disorderly persons offense. For example, shoplifting or drug possession charges, where the monetary value stolen or the amount of drugs possessed just crosses the threshold of an indictable offense, are often candidates for a downgrade to a disorderly persons offense.
In New Jersey, a third- or fourth-degree felony can be dismissed through the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI). The defendant will be interviewed by the Criminal Division of the Superior Court and rejected or accepted into the program based on the court’s decision. If the PTI is successfully completed, the defendant avoids a criminal record and many of the costs associated with a lengthy court process.
Many downgrades are the result of a plea agreement, where the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offense and does not continue forward in a lengthy trial. One exception to the potential of downgrading a charge is for driving while intoxicated, which cannot be downgraded.
Downgrading a Disorderly Persons Offense
What many states refer to as misdemeanors, New Jersey calls a disorderly persons offense. These charges can result in fines of up to $1,000 and six months of imprisonment. Examples of these charges include:
- Simple assault
- Disorderly conduct
- Resisting arrest
- Shoplifting less than $200
Disorderly persons offenses are likely to appear on your record if employers or educational institutions conduct a background check.
Prosecutors have the ability to downgrade a disorderly persons offense to a non-criminal municipal ordinance violation. You may also be eligible for expungement after a given period of time.
Hire a New Jersey Defense Attorney to Fight to Downgrade Charges
The ability to downgrade a charge makes a significant difference in potential prison time, fines, and whether you will be burdened with a criminal record. You need an experienced legal team at your defense to fight for charges to be dismissed. If convicted, you need the skills and experience of a seasoned legal team to champion your qualifications for reduced penalties.
For a free consultation, contact Rosenberg | Perry & Associates through our contact form online, or call today at (609) 216-7400. Our team understands your future is on the line, and we’ll share how we can represent your case in the New Jersey court system.