A judge has many possible options when sentencing a defendant. For example, a person could be sentenced to a period of incarceration, meaning county jail or state prison, depending on how serious the crime was as well as other factors, such as whether the person has any prior criminal history or if there was a victim who was injured or is owed restitution. Alternatively, a defendant could be sentenced to a term of probation, which would have certain conditions attached to it that the person would have to comply with in order for their sentence to be completed successfully.

They could also be issued a fine, or they could be required to participate in certain types of programs, like a rehab program or anger management, although those are generally done as a condition of probation.

Does This Include Probation?

Yes. Probation can be a sentencing option for certain crimes. However, not all crimes have probation as a realistic sentencing option.

For instance, someone who was convicted of first-degree murder is not going to get probation. The more serious the crime, the less likely the judge is to sentence a defendant to probation.

What Sort Of Crimes Would Result In A Fine?

Fines are authorized for all offenses under the criminal code, with a maximum fine set for each offense.

Usually, someone who has been convicted of an indictable offense, which is the word New Jersey uses instead of felony, is not issued a fine. Fines are more frequently imposed for disorderly person’s offenses (which are akin to misdemeanors) in Municipal Court.

Someone who went to the Municipal Court and was convicted of a disorderly person’s offense or a petty disorderly person’s offense is almost always fined. The maximum fine for a petty disorderly person’s offense is $500, and the maximum fine for disorderly person’s offense is $1,000.

What Sorts Of Crimes Result In A Jail Time Sentence?

Technically, anything under the Title 2C, which is the New Jersey Criminal Code, could result in jail time. The maximum amount of jail time would be 30 days for a petty disorderly person’s offense and 180 days for a disorderly person’s offense.

For a fourth degree crime, the maximum jail sentence is 18 months in New Jersey State Prison. For a third degree crime, the jail time is 3 to 5 years; for a second degree crime, it is 5 to 10 years. For a first degree crime, you can be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.

These amounts can be enhanced. There are certain situations in which somebody is eligible for an extended sentence due to his prior history. It can get pretty complicated, which is why having an experienced criminal defense attorney is so important.

On many types of offenses, a first-time offender is not going to realistically be looking at jail, unless it’s a first or second degree crime where there is a presumption of incarceration. However, there is a presumption against incarceration for first offenders convicted of third and fourth degree crimes. In this situation, a first offender is someone who has no prior convictions in Superior Court. If they have been granted PTI in the past, they would still be considered a first offender for sentencing purposes. If they have been convicted of DPs or PDPs in Municipal Court, but have never been convicted in Superior Court, they would be considered a first offender for sentencing purposes.

What Are Some Examples of Disorderly Persons Offenses?

Shoplifting, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, and simple assault are good examples of disorderly person’s offenses.

A petty disorderly persons offense could be harassment or disorderly conduct. Those are similar to disorderly person’s offenses but have been classified as petty by the legislature and are thus subject to a lower maximum fine and a shorter maximum jail sentence.

Can A Fine Be Imposed On Someone Immediately?

In Municipal Court sentencing usually takes place at the same time as the guilty plea or guilty verdict after a trial. If a judge is going to issue a fine, that’s when it would be done. If the person can’t pay the fine, and the judge has determined that they are ineligible for a payment plan, then the person can be put in jail in lieu of a fine. It’s not really an option most judges like to exercise though, and it is usually used as a last resort, such as when the person has defaulted on their payment plan and has been arrested on a bench warrant. If they don’t have the money to post bail to get out of jail or pay the fine, then sometimes the judge will convert their fines to jail time at the rate of $50 per day, and so they stay in jail until the fine is paid off.

What Is The Difference Between Being On Parole And Being On Probation?

Functionally, there is not a big difference between the two, other than the fact that parole is supervised by the State and probation is supervised by the county.

However, the process for revoking parole is very different than the process for terminating probation.

Someone who violated his probation would have to go before the sentencing judge, and the violation would have to be proven by clear and convincing evidence in a hearing. If the person chooses not to have a hearing on their VOP, they can simply plead guilty and be sentenced. The sentence could be increasing the term of probation, adding conditions, or even being sent to jail for the remainder of their sentence.

On the other hand, when a parole officer determines that there has been a violation, they file the paperwork charging the parolee with the violation, place them under arrest and send them back to prison immediately while the parole violation is pending. A parole violation hearing is held before a hearing officer, not a judge, and that person makes a recommendation to a panel of the parole board, and the panel then issues a decision about what to do about the violation. The options for sentencing on a parole violation are essentially the same as with a probation violation: they could be sent back to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence, or they could have conditions added to their parole.

There are major differences in the way revocation is dealt with. However, in terms of differences in supervision, parole might is a stricter form of supervision than probation. Functionally, however, they are mostly equivalent to each other.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Paying Fines?

The biggest misconception is that people often think they can get away with not paying it. That’s not true. If a person doesn’t pay his fine, the court will issue a bench warrant and suspend the person’s driver’s license.

That person might then get arrested for driving while his license is suspended, and would certainly be arrested on the bench warrant and would have to post bail be released from jail and get a new court date. He will ultimately face a judge when he goes back to court. If he couldn’t pay the entire fine all at once, then he could be sent to jail to pay back his fine at $50 per day until paid in full. Alternatively, the judge could give them a second chance on their payment plan. It really depends on who the particular judge is and what his or her policy is.

If someone is truly unable to pay their fine, or comply with their payment plan, they need to contact the court and go back before the judge to find out whether or not they can modify the payment instead of ignoring the obligation.

Problems do not go away just because you ignore them.

Another big misconception is that all defendants are entitled to a payment plan on a fine. That’s also not true. There is a case called State v. De Bonis, which says that if a defendant can demonstrate a financial inability to pay a fine all at once, the court is required to allow him to pay in installments. If that is not the case, the court is under no such obligation. Some judges allow payment plans regularly, and some don’t. It is not a good idea to just assume that you are going to get a payment plan when you go to court.

For more information on What Happens During Sentencing, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (609) 448-2700 today.