New Jersey’s Focus on Second Degree Offenses

Learn Why Second Degree Crimes Matter in New Jersey’s Legal System.

Charged with a Second Degree Crime Essex County NJAll criminal charges are very serious in New Jersey. Serious criminal charges, called indictable offenses in New Jersey and felonies in other states, come with severe penalties for conviction. If you have been charged with a second degree crime, you must waste no time in contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our team can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights and future. Contact us today at 201-654-3464, and read on to learn more about why second degree crimes rank high in New Jersey’s penal system.

The Classification of Serious Crimes in New Jersey

In New Jersey, serious crimes for which one can face prison are called indictable offenses, whereas in other states, these are called felonies. Indictable offenses are classified on a degree system: fourth degree crimes are the least serious, relatively; while first degree crimes are the most serious felonies for which penalties are steepest. Second degree crimes, then, are just one degree below the most serious class of crimes.

Identifying Second Degree Crimes in New Jersey

New Jersey Revised Statutes 2C:13-9 outlines second degree crimes and their penalties. According to New Jersey law, second degree indictable offenses generally involve those that threaten the safety of another or actively harm them. They include the following: certain drug crimes involving highly controlled substances or distribution of large quantities of drugs, illegal possession of a firearm, aggravated assault resulting in serious injury, sexual assault, kidnapping, theft of $75,000 or more, and aggravated arson, among others.

The Lasting Effects of Second Degree Convictions

Penalties for second degree indictable offenses consist of between 5 and 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. Those who are convicted of a second degree crime will also have a permanent criminal record. Second degree offenses of a violent nature can upend your life as you face upwards of a decade in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Presumed incarceration, supplemented by the No Early Release Act or Graves Act increase the stakes and necessity of quality legal representation and a strong defense.

Understanding the Presumption in Second Degree Criminal Cases

Second degree offenses carry an additional element that make their charge more serious and the procurement of a skilled defense attorney more essential. This is the offense’s presumption of incarceration. All second degree indictable offenses carry the presumption of incarceration, or the default presumption that a jail sentence will accompany conviction. Fourth and third degree indictable crimes in New Jersey, while also being serious, do not carry this presumption.

New Jersey No Early Release Act and Parole Eligibility

The New Jersey No Early Release Act determines that those who are convicted of certain crimes must complete at least 85 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The No Early Release Act (NERA) applies to violent crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping, and some other second degree crimes.

What is the Graves Act?

The Graves Act states that those convicted of a second degree crime including a weapons charge must serve between at least one third and one half of their sentence or 42 months (whichever is greater) before becoming eligible for parole.

New Jersey Superior Courts and 2nd Degree Indictable Offenses

Second Degree Charges and Consequences in Newark NJ

Second degree crimes, as well as all indictable offenses from the fourth to the first degree, are handled in the New Jersey Superior Courts.

Indictment Proceedings for Second Degree Crimes in NJ

A second degree crime is an indictable offense, so a prosecutor must go before a grand jury of citizens to present evidence of probable cause to move forward with the case. If a majority votes in favor of indictment, the accused will receive an indictment, or formal charge called a true bill, and the case will be heard by a Superior Court judge.

Get Legal Help with Second Degree Crime Defense in Essex County NJ

When someone is arrested for a second degree offense, particularly those involving violent crimes, the prosecution usually files for a detention hearing to require the defendant to remain detained until the trial. A detention hearing and bail options – or the potential of being detained until your trial – are a few of many reasons to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your future professional and personal prospects will also be affected as you would have a severe charge on your criminal record if convicted.

If you have been charged with a second degree indictable offense in New Jersey, contact our team immediately at 201-654-3464 for a free consultation to discuss your options. We are committed to using our expansive experience and diverse resources within the criminal justice system to provide clients in Verona, Newark, Belleville, Maplewood, Irvington, Short Hills, Bloomfield, and other Essex County areas the best chance of acquittal or a reduced sentence, so they can get back to their lives.

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