Definition of a Crime

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Our attorneys receive countless inquiries every year concerning the classes of offenses under the NJ criminal code. The typical scenario is that someone received a charge and wants to know what is involved with the particular degree of offense set forth in the complaint they received.

The criminal code of New Jersey does not categorize criminal charges in terms of felony or misdemeanor. The law is, instead, defined in terms of what constitutes a crime and what does not. A crime is defined in NJ as an offense that carries in excess of six months of potential incarceration. Offenses involving less than six months of incarceration are not considered crimes in New Jersey and are referred to as disorderly person offenses.

Crimes are categorized in New Jersey in terms of “degrees.” The criminal code provides for first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree offenses. First-degree charges are the most serious and fourth-degree charges are the least.

A conviction for a first-degree offense involves a minimum jail exposure in the range of ten to twenty years. The potential jail for a second-degree criminal conviction is five to ten years. And the potential incarceration for a third-degree offense is eighteen months to five years. Fourth-degree charges involve jail sentences up to eighteen months. These incarceration ranges represent the norm but enhanced terms of incarceration may apply depending on the nature of an offense and a defendant’s prior criminal record.

The criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall would be happy to explain exactly how the aforesaid classes of offenses apply to your case. A defense attorney is available 24/7. A lawyer from our law firm is here to assist you.