Serving Mercer County, Hunterdon County, and Somerset CountyAvailable 24/7 - Consultation is Free
Firm Logo

First & Second Degree Crimes

Facing First or Second Degree Felony Offenses in New Jersey?

First and second degree felony offenses are the most serious types of crimes in New Jersey. They differ from the other categories of crimes in one very important way—a person found guilty of either degree is presumed to serve a prison sentence. This means that probation and some diversionary programs are not available to persons found guilty of these offenses.

There is a complicated formula and many variables that determine how much time a person will actually serve on a particular length of a sentence, but generally, a “flat” sentence usually means a person is eligible for release on parole after serving somewhere between a third and one half of the original sentence. Many of the statutes for first and second degree crimes in New Jersey carry specific “mandatory periods of parole ineligibility,” requiring a person convicted to serve a longer than usual amount of a prison sentence before being eligible for parole supervision.

  • Typically second degree crimes are punishable by 5-10 years in state prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
  • As a general matter, first degree crimes are punishable by 10-20 years in state prison and up to a $200,000 fine. However, there are specific types of first degree offenses that expose a defendant to mandatory minimum sentences of 25 or 30 years up to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

No Early Release Act

The No Early Release Act, commonly referred to as NERA in courtrooms throughout the state, is a statute that requires a specific list of first and second degree crimes to be treated differently from other crimes of those degrees. Nearly every violent crime in New Jersey is categorized as either a first or second degree felony, and essentially all of them appear on the list of crimes to which NERA applies.

There are also first and second degree crimes that are not violent in nature, but still carry the very significant consequences listed above. Some offenses involving theft (due to the value of the item unlawfully acquired) or drugs (due to the weight of “controlled dangerous substance” being distributed or the role of the accused person in a CDS distribution network), and even official misconduct (when a public servant acts improperly and uses that role to obtain a benefit that the official is not entitled to) that rise to the level of first or second degree crime. No matter what category the charges fit into, it’s exceptionally important to obtain counsel as quickly as possible when facing a first or second degree charge. A prison sentence is a life-altering event, particularly when a half decade or more is involved. Whether you need to challenge the evidence against you or skillfully negotiate a better outcome or a combination of both, Forrester Law Firm has the experience and expertise needed to face the most serious indictable charges. If you are facing charges for a first or second degree offense, contact us today and begin preparing your best defense.

Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in TrentonBest Criminal Defense Attorneys in Trenton
Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in EdisonBest Criminal Defense Attorneys in Edison
Best DUI Lawyers in TrentonBest DUI Lawyers in Trenton