In the United States, there are federal and state laws to cover felonies and misdemeanours. But not all states are created equally.
For instance, crimes that fall under the classification of misdemeanours in other states are not called the same in New Jersey. Let us take a closer look at how New Jersey law differs from other states.
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Degree Crime in New Jersey
Criminal offences fall into one of six classifications in New Jersey.
Crimes that are called felonies in other states belong to the first, second, third, or fourth-degree classes of crimes in New Jersey. First-degree crimes are the most severe while fourth-degree crimes are the least severe.
But unlike other states, those crimes are not actually called felonies in New Jersey. Instead, they are classed as indictable offences.
If you are charged with an indictable offence, you need to get an experienced lawyer on board to handle your case and represent you in court.
For instance, if you are located in Middlesex County, New Jersey, you need a Middlesex criminal defense attorney who has the expert knowledge and skills required to defend you.
Here are some of the crimes that fall under the first four offence classifications in New Jersey:
- First-degree criminal offences include manslaughter, murder, and rape.
- Second-degree criminal offences include white-collar crimes, kidnapping, aggravated arson, and sex crimes.
- Third-degree criminal offences include possession of a controlled substance, arson, and certain robbery offences.
- Fourth-degree criminal offences include other robbery offences and forgery.
Misdemeanours in New Jersey
The other two classes of criminal offences in New Jersey represent misdemeanours.
However, just like the word “felony”, the term “misdemeanour” is not used in New Jersey law. Instead, misdemeanours are referred to as “disorderly person” crimes.
Those crimes can be either disorderly person offences or petty disorderly person offences; both of which can carry prison sentences of up to six months.
People who are found guilty of disorderly person offences can also face fines of up to $1,000, while people who are guilty of petty disorderly person crimes can be fined up to $500.
Crimes in New Jersey that are equal to misdemeanours in other states include possession of drug paraphernalia, trespassing, underage drinking, and possession of fake identification.
Interestingly, while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a misdemeanor crime in most states, it is not a crime in New Jersey.
While you can still be charged for driving impaired and face penalties that are similar to a DUI or DWI misdemeanour in the state, driving under the influence is not technically a crime in New Jersey and it will not appear on your record like other criminal charges.
If you live in New Jersey, are visiting the state, or are moving to the state, you should brush up on state laws and ensure you understand what is meant by indictable offences and disorderly persons crimes.
The former is the New Jersey equivalent of felonies. If you should be convicted of an indictable offence, it can greatly impact your life. You could face years in prison and it could be much more difficult to get a job when you have an indictable offence on your record.
If you are found guilty of a disorderly person offence, you will probably have to pay a fine and you could end up spending a few weeks or months in prison, but it will be easier to expunge a disorderly person crime from your record.
At the end of the day, if you are charged with any degree of a criminal offence, contact an attorney straight away to find out what your options are.
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