Being charged with a serious crime can be overwhelming for most people, especially when facing the possibility of spending years in state prison. Nevertheless, there is hope, but you need someone on your side fighting for your rights. You deserve a fair outcome, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding your charges.
New Jersey criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer helps people face their criminal charges, whether for minor offenses or very serious crimes. She knows that this is your future at stake, and she uses her knowledge, experience, and legal skill to help you get the best possible result. If you’d like to learn about how we can help you, schedule your free consultation by calling us at 215-712-1212 or contacting us online.
Serious crimes in New Jersey are called “indictable offenses.” These offenses are typically the equivalent of felonies in other states and are distinguished from “disorderly persons offenses,” New Jersey’s name for misdemeanors. Where disorderly persons offenses are punishable by a maximum of six months in jail, the potential punishment for an indictable offense includes a minimum sentence of one year.
These offenses are called “indictable” because you must be indicted by a grand jury in order to be charged. This means that the prosecution must first bring the case to the grand jury for review, and demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to support a charge. If the grand jury finds that there is sufficient evidence, they will issue an indictment, the prosecution will formally file charges, and the case will proceed.
New Jersey law recognizes four degrees of indictable offenses:
First-degree crimes are the most serious, while fourth-degree crimes are considered to be lesser offenses. However, fourth-degree crimes are sort of a catch-all – many crimes that are considered to be misdemeanors are fourth-degree crimes, and any crime that does not have a specified degree by statute is a fourth-degree crime.
If convicted of an indictable offense, you could be facing a prison sentence and harsh fines. The potential punishment will vary according to the degree of the underlying offense:
Under New Jersey law, the judges do have some discretion to allow the defendant to serve all or part of their prison sentence on probation. However, you should also be aware that certain offenses may require extended terms, such as 20 years to life in prison for first-degree murder. Other offenses may include a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
As mentioned above, first-degree indictable offenses are considered the most serious crimes under New Jersey law – if convicted, you could face a sentence of 10 to 20 years. Some of the most common crimes that trigger first-degree indictable offense charges are as follows:
While less serious than a first-degree offense, second-degree indictable offenses can result in a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years. Here are some examples of common crimes that can result in a second-degree indictable offense charge:
As mentioned above, a conviction for a third-degree indictable offense could result in a prison sentence between three and five years. The following are some of the more common third-degree crimes:
In New Jersey, there is a presumption of non-incarceration for third-degree crimes. This means that if this is your first offense, there is a good chance that you will not go to prison. However, you will likely have to participate in a diversionary program (such as drug treatment) or serve probation.
Although fourth-degree indictable offenses are considered the lowest of indictable offenses, you can still be sentenced up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison. These are some of the most common fourth degree indictable offenses that we see:
Like third-degree crimes, there is also a presumption of non-incarceration for fourth-degree offenses. Again, you will likely have to participate in a diversionary program or serve probation or possibly both.
Many people think that they need a lawyer only if their case is going to trial. This is a serious mistake for a number of reasons but also overlooks how a lawyer can help from the very outset. Prosecutors can be extremely aggressive and use a number of tactics to try to get a quick conviction. For example, they may charge you with multiple crimes in order to convince a jury that you must be guilty of something or simply to use as leverage to get you to accept a plea. Alternatively, they may try to get you to say something that will later be used against you. They may try to get you to accept a plea agreement on a charge on which they would likely not be able to convict you.
A criminal defense lawyer can protect you from these tactics. They can speak on your behalf, and prohibit the prosecution from speaking to you outside of their presence. They can review all of your options with you, including any plea offers, to ensure that you are making an informed decision and getting a fair result.
At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we know what it takes to get a fair result. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make sure you are fully informed about everything going on in your case and what options you have. Attorney Lauren Wimmer has the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to get a fair result. Call us at 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation and discuss how we can help you.