Whether you have a history of prior criminal convictions or have never seen the inside of a courtroom, being charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey can be an immensely stressful and life-changing experience. While you do have certain rights in situations like this guaranteed to you by state law and the United States Constitution, effectively enforcing those rights—let alone achieving a favorable result to your case—can be extremely challenging in practice.
Support from an experienced Piscataway criminal defense lawyer can prove vital to both protecting yourself during your criminal proceedings and giving yourself a fair shot at securing a favorable outcome. From interacting with law enforcement on your behalf to building the strongest possible defense based on all available evidence, Jennifer Marshall could be your lifeline throughout your unique case.
How State Law Classifies Criminal Charges
New Jersey deviates from most other U.S. states in not categorizing criminal offenses as either “misdemeanors” or “felonies.” Instead, the Garden States refers to crimes that would generally be considered misdemeanors elsewhere as “disorderly persons offenses” and uses the term “indictable offenses” to refer to serious crimes that would generally be prosecuted as felonies in other states. Traffic violations, municipal offenses, and other minor and/or non-criminal acts are sometimes referred to as “petty disorderly conduct offenses.”
New Jersey Revised Statutes §2C:43-1 establishes four subtypes of indictable offenses, with “crimes of the first degree” being the most severely punished and “crimes of the fourth degree” being the least severely punished. As per N.J.R.S. §2C:43-6, offenses classified into these four degrees have the following basic ranges for prison terms which a convicted defendant may have imposed upon them:
- Crime of the fourth degree – a maximum of 18 months, with a presumptive nine-month sentence
- Crime of the third degree – between three and five years, with a presumptive four-year sentence
- Crime of the second degree – between five and ten years, with a presumptive seven-year sentence
- Crime of the first degree – between 10 and 20 years, with a presumptive 15-year sentence
As a Piscataway criminal defense attorney could further explain, especially severe first-degree crimes such as murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault of a child younger than 13 have enhanced sentencing ranges which may allow for maximum sentences of 30 years up to life imprisonment.
What Factors Affect Criminal Sentencing in Piscataway?
It is worth emphasizing that the sentencing ranges listed above are generally the starting point for New Jersey criminal courts, not necessarily the endpoint. A court will consider numerous aggravating and mitigating circumstances—for instance, the defendant’s criminal history, or the defendant’s cooperation with law enforcement—when selecting a sentence within the set range.
Additionally, repeat offenders are subject to extended sentencing ranges, which, depending on the circumstances, may be applied at the court’s discretion or mandatory. Jennifer Marshall, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Piscataway, can go into more detail about possible sanctions associated with a specific charge during a confidential consultation.
A Piscataway Criminal Defense Attorney is Here to Help
Contesting criminal charges is never straightforward, even if all the evidence seems to be on your side. Without support from a dedicated legal professional, overcoming an unsatisfactory case outcome that leaves you facing life-altering criminal sanctions may be challenging.
A conversation with a Piscataway criminal defense lawyer could provide you with clarity about your options and confidence regarding your next steps. Call our firm today to set up a meeting with Jennifer Marshall.