In New Jersey, offenses that are considered a “felony” in other jurisdictions are actually referred to as a crime; and a “misdemeanor” in other states is called a disorderly person's offense. Sometimes there is some confusion because of the different terminology used in New Jersey from that used in other states. Below we'll clarify the differences:
Crime (Not Felony) in New Jersey
An indictable offense (crime) in New Jersey would be considered the equivalent of a felony in other states, because the sentence for any indictable offense is at least one year in prison. “Indictable” means that a grand jury must review the case and find that there is enough evidence to support a formal charge and require the defendant to stand trial for the crime.
Indictable crimes in New Jersey are separated into the first to the fourth degrees, with first degree crimes being the most serious and fourth degree being the least serious. The grand jury produces a written statement, which is called an indictment.
- First degree crimes in New Jersey include murder, manslaughter, and rape.
- Second degree crimes include sex crimes, aggravated arson, burglary, kidnapping, white collar crimes, and drug crimes.
- Third degree crimes can include arson, some robbery offenses, possession of controlled substances, and some driving under the influence (DUI) offenses.
- Fourth degree crimes include stalking, some robbery offenses, some DUI offenses, and forgery.
It should be noted that DWI's, normally considered motor vehicle offenses, may be tried as criminal offenses if there are injuries or deaths involved. The most serious assault by auto charge is vehicular manslaughter, which is the offense of causing someone else's death through reckless driving.
Disorderly Persons Offense (Not Misdemeanor) in NJ
Nonindictable offenses are called disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses. Disorderly person offenses (different from disorderly conduct) and petty disorderly person offenses are the equivalent of misdemeanors in other states, because they are less serious offenses and are punishable by less than one year in jail.
A petty disorderly person offense is the lease serious is includes disorderly conduct and harassment. A disorderly persons offense is a more serious offense and generally falls into the category of acts that disturb the peace, shoplifting, public lewdness, fighting, possession of marijuana under 50 grams and resisting arrest and it will show up on your permanent record.
Seek Legal Help for an Indictable Crime or Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey
If you have been charged with an indictable offense or disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, it is critical to speak with the criminal defense attorneys of Villani & DeLuca P.C. Partner Carmine R. Villani, Esq. has over 20 years of experience in criminal defense through his service as municipal prosecutor and public defender for various NJ towns. Our lawyers can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options and will represent you at trial. Please call 732-709-7757 to schedule your free consultation.
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