Felonies Vs. Misdemeanors in New Jersey | What You Need to Know

Posted March 10th, 2023.

Categories: Blog.

One of the questions we are frequently asked is, “what is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?” To start, New Jersey law does not formally recognize the term, “misdemeanor,” but it does recognize lower-level crimes in a different way. That being said, felonies are reserved for the most serious crimes, and regardless of your circumstances, if you’ve been charged with a crime of any sort, you should speak with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney today. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What consequences do felonies warrant?

As you may know, felonies are broken down into degrees. There are first, second, third, and fourth-degree felonies, first-degree felonies being the most heinous crimes, and fourth-degree felonies being the least severe of the four. If you are convicted of a first-degree felony, such as murder, you may face a potential $200,000 fine and anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. If you are convicted of a second-degree felony, such as arson or aggravated assault, you may face a potential $150,000 fine and spend between five and 10 years in prison. For a third-degree felony conviction, such as for the possession of a controlled substance, you may face a potential $15,000 fine and between three and five years in prison. Finally, for a fourth-degree felony conviction, such as being held in contempt of court, you may face a $10,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison.

What crimes are considered misdemeanors?

The first thing you should understand is that here in New Jersey, there are no misdemeanor crimes. While many states use this term, we do not. Instead, lower-level offenses are known as disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses. If you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense (e.g. simple assault or shoplifting), you may face a potential $1,000 fine and spend up to six months in jail. If you are convicted of a petty disorderly persons offense, such as disorderly conduct, you may face a potential $500 fine and spend up to 30 days in jail. That being said, the prospect of jail time is still a very serious one, which is why no matter the crime you charged with, it is critical that you retain the services of a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our firm is here to help.

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