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Criminal Defense in New Jersey

New Jersey labels or categorizes violations of state law or offenses against the state and its citizenry a little differently than most states. Criminal or quasi-criminal violations include categories of offenses known as crimes, disorderly persons offenses, local ordinance violations, and traffic offenses. What follows is a general overview of these offense types.


A Camden County criminal lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse offers skilled representation for those charged with the following crimes:

Crimes are the most serious types of infractions in New Jersey and are classified by degree: first degree, second degree, third degree, and fourth degree. Infractions known as crimes in this state are more commonly referred to as felonies in other jurisdictions.

  • First degree crimes – These include murder, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, certain large drug distribution and/or manufacturing schemes, and armed robbery. Most first degree crimes carry sentences ranging from ten to twenty years in New Jersey State Prison, with the most serious crimes such as murder, carrying a sentence of life imprisonment, in some cases without the possibility of parole.
  • Second degree crimes – These include sexual assault, some manufacture or distribution of controlled and dangerous substances offenses, robbery, official misconduct, thefts in excess in $75,000, and certain burglaries which involve aggravating circumstances. Second degree crimes carry a sentence of five to ten years in New Jersey State Prison.

The Code of Criminal Justice in New Jersey establishes that in the event an individual is found guilty of a first or second degree crime, there is a presumption that the convicted individual be sentenced to a period of incarceration in New Jersey State Prison, regardless of the accused’s background.

  • Third degree crimes – These include weapons offenses, less serious drug offenses, assault by auto, and thefts in excess of $500 but less than $75,000. Third degree crimes carry sentences ranging from zero to five years in New Jersey State Prison.
  • Fourth degree crimes – These are the least serious group and generally are comprised of some weapons offenses, possession of marijuana over fifty grams, and some automobile offenses which result in personal injury. These crimes carry sentences of zero to eighteen months imprisonment.

Concerning third and fourth degree crimes, if the offender has no prior convictions, the New Jersey Criminal Code provides a presumption against imprisonment. A judge, however, may impose a period of incarceration within the range specific by the Criminal Code.

Disorderly Persons Offenses

Disorderly persons offenses are not crimes. In most states, disorderly persons offenses as defined in New Jersey are known as misdemeanors. Disorderly persons offenses are generally tried and adjudicated in the municipal court of the town where the offense occurred. Disorderly persons offenses carry penalties of up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine. Examples of disorderly persons offenses include possession of marijuana under fifty grams, simple assault, harassment, shoplifting, and other similar type offenses.

Local Ordinance Violations

These infractions encompass violations of a town’s specific local code. An example of local ordinance violation would be disturbing the peace, littering, loitering, public intoxication, or excessive noise.

Traffic Violations

The most common traffic violations include driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while suspended, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to observe traffic signal, failure to yield, disregard of traffic signal, or speeding. The most serious of these offenses, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving while suspended, generally carry significant periods of license suspension and sometimes jail terms. Often times, a conviction for a traffic offense can and does have a greater impact on a citizen than a conviction for violating a local ordinance, a disorderly persons conviction, or even a conviction for committing a crime. Traffic matters are handled in the municipal court of the town where the offense allegedly occurred. Like disorderly persons offenses and local ordinances, the guilt or innocence of an individual charged is decided by a judge and not a jury.

A Camden County Criminal Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse Provides Skilled Defense for Those Charged With a Crime in New Jersey

If you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced and dedicated Camden County criminal lawyer in your corner. A Camden County criminal lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gosse offers skilled legal representation to individuals charged with all types of crimes. To arrange a personal consultation, call 856-546-6600 today or contact us online. Our office is located in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, and we handle criminal cases throughout the surrounding area.

The above is not legal advice. That can only come from a qualified attorney who is familiar with all the facts and circumstances of a particular, specific case and the relevant law.