Sentence of Imprisonment

Prison sentences can result from any conviction for a criminal offense in New Jersey. While imprisonment may be rare for something like a disorderly persons offense, a conviction for one can still be punished by up to 6 months in jail. The sentences for crimes in New Jersey are as follows:

  • First Degree Crime: Between 10 and 20 years
  • Second Degree Crime: Between five and 10 years
  • Third Degree Crime: Between three and five years
  • Fourth Degree Crime: Up to18 months

While these are the sentences given in the statute, these are not necessarily exactly what you could be facing. If you have been convicted of a crime, you will have to attend a sentencing hearing in order for your punishment to be determined. You will have an interview with a probation officer beforehand who will prepare a report for the judge. The judge will then determine any aggravating or mitigating circumstances which could elongate or shorten your sentence respectively. Some examples of these types of circumstances are:

Aggravating Circumstances

  • The crime committed was especially heinous or cruel
  • Gravity and Seriousness of the harm inflicted on the victim
  • Risk of a repeat offense
  • Offense was committed against a police officer, fireman, or other public service because of his position
  • Advanced age, ill-health, or extreme youth of the victim

Mitigating Circumstances

  • Conduct did not cause or threaten serious harm
  • Defendant acted under strong provocation
  • Victim caused the actions of the defendant
  • Defendant has compensated the victim or will participate in community service
  • Defendant has no prior criminal record
  • Willingness of the defendant to cooperate with law enforcement

If the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances, the judge could impose a minimum term of one-half of your prison sentence during which time you will not be eligible for parole. Similarly, convictions for certain crimes will prevent your eligibility for parole. If you have been convicted of committing a crime with possession of a firearm, you will be forced to serve between one-third and one-half of your sentence without the possibility of parole.

For certain crimes or circumstances you may receive an extended sentence. Criteria for an extended prison sentence include:

  • A persistent offender - A person who has been previously convicted on two separate occasions for two crimes.
  • A person who has been convicted a second time and he used or possessed a firearm.
  • A professional criminal - a person who committed the crime as part of criminal activity in conjunction with two or more people and criminal activity is his major source of livelihood.
  • A person who was paid to commit the crime.
  • A person who used violence or the threat of violence on a victim less than 16 years old.

Extended Sentences are as follows:

  • Murder - 35 years to life imprisonment
  • Aggravated manslaughter, first degree kidnapping, or aggravated sexual assault against a minor under 16 years old – 30 years to life imprisonment
  • Other first degree crimes - 20 years to life imprisonment
  • Second degree crimes - 10 to 20 years
  • Third degree crimes - five to 10 years
  • Fourth degree crimes - three to five years

The court may also impose a maximum period of one-half of your sentence where you will not be eligible for parole. In the case of a life sentence, parole ineligibility is set at 25 years, unless the crime committed is murder, which is 35 years, or Aggravated manslaughter, first degree kidnapping, or aggravated sexual assault against a minor under 16 years old, which is 30 years.

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It is important to know how the circumstances and specifics of your crime can affect your sentence. If you have been convicted of a crime, you should make sure that when talking with the probation officer you emphasize the mitigating circumstances of your conviction as that may help you receive a lesser sentence. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your case or sentence, contact LS&P Lawyers immediately. We are available at (908)-709-0500 for free consultation 24/7. We have had over 35 years of success in courts all over the State and would be glad to use our years of experience to help your with your legal matters.