Many people believe a simple criminal offense may not lead to severe penalties. However, being charged with any criminal offense – whether small or big – can lead to severe consequences. As you will learn through this article, whether you are charged with a lesser crime or a more serious crime in New Jersey, you are at risk of facing life-altering criminal consequences. Will you go to jail for a first-time misdemeanor in New Jersey? Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorney John J. Zarych explains.

Can You Face Jail Time for a First Time Misdemeanor in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, criminal charges for lesser offenses are not called misdemeanors as in other jurisdictions. Instead, New Jersey calls them “disorderly persons offenses.” Like misdemeanors, disorderly persons offenses are classified as the lowest type of crime. There is also a subset of disorderly person offenses known as “petty disorderly persons offenses” that are lower than misdemeanors. However, the fact you have been charged with these criminal offenses does not mean your penalties should be taken lightly.

If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you need to hire a Sea Isle City criminal defense attorney right away. If you are convicted for any of these offenses, you can face jail time and steep fines. Common examples of disorderly persons offenses or misdemeanors in New Jersey include harassment, soliciting a prostitute, trespassing, and theft – among other offenses.

According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:1-4(b), misdemeanors in New Jersey – or disorderly persons offenses – are not considered crimes. However, as we mentioned, charges can still lead to incarceration. It is always in your best interest to have competent, skilled legal representation by your side at all times if you were charged with a misdemeanor in New Jersey.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Avoid Jail for a First-Time Misdemeanor Charge in New Jersey?

Facing New Jersey’s criminal justice system on your own is something you’d best avoid. If you were charged with a criminal offense, it is essential to hire an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. The first thing that happens after being arrested is your booking process. At this point, you will be photographed and fingerprinted. Once this process ends, you will go to your arraignment. Keep in mind that you may be placed in jail until your arraignment is due – which can take up to 48 hours after your booking.

At your hearing, you will be in front of a judge who will look at your file and decide whether you should get bail or not. New Jersey does not allow you to post bail in cash. In your case, the judge can decide to release you – pending any additional hearings – without bail conditions, which may include participating in programs such as drug counseling, or they can order you to remain in jail while your case is pending. Your attorney can also help you participate in a pretrial intervention program. Through this diversionary program, you can complete certain penalties in exchange for the dismissal of your charges.

You will also go through the arraignment process, which will take place in the municipal court. This is the moment when you choose whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. At this point, you can also negotiate with the prosecution and enter a plea deal. It is essential to hire an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help you make a deal that is most favorable to you.

Your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer can help you strategize to build a robust defense and fight off your charges. Your attorney can also enter into negotiations with the prosecution to achieve the best possible result in your case. More importantly, your criminal defense lawyer can ensure your constitutional rights are upheld at all times.

Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Result in a Criminal Record in New Jersey?

New Jersey divides crimes into two main categories: disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes. As we mentioned, disorderly persons offenses are similar to misdemeanors in other jurisdictions. Indictable crimes, on the other hand, equate to felonies, which carry the most severe consequences. Compared to indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses are not crimes warranting severe criminal punishments. However, this doesn’t mean you are safe from the consequences of a criminal conviction.

If you were charged and convicted for a misdemeanor in New Jersey, your criminal conviction would show up in your record. Many people feel tempted to believe that being charged with a misdemeanor – or disorderly persons offense – is “not that bad.” However, nothing can be further from the truth. If you are facing misdemeanor charges, it is critical to fight them aggressively. Your criminal record may cause multiple challenges in the future, even after getting out of jail.

For example, having a criminal record can make it nearly impossible for an ex-convicted felon to find a new job. Most employers run background checks to determine whether you are eligible for work. The same happens with landlords who will look at your criminal history to decide whether you are eligible to rent a home. Your situation can be more challenging if you are young and looking to get a degree from college. For these and many other reasons, it is essential to dispute the allegations against you aggressively. It is best to hire an experienced New Jersey and Avalon criminal defense attorney who can help you through this challenging time.

Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys Handling First Time Misdemeanor Cases in New Jersey

No matter the classification of your criminal offense, you should always take your charges seriously. Even a minor charge such as a disorderly persons offense can lead to devastating consequences. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys from the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can help you fight against your criminal charges. For decades we have dedicated all of our efforts and resources to defending and upholding our clients’ constitutional rights. We know how frustrating and challenging facing New Jersey’s criminal justice system can be. We will fight aggressively and strategically, providing you with the criminal defense you deserve. To learn more about our legal services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.