New Jersey Constitutional Protections for Criminal Defendants
In New Jersey crimes and offenses are set forth N.J.S.A. 2C:1-4. When charged with a crime or an offense there are certain Constitutional protections afforded.
2C:1-4. Classes of offenses. a. An offense defined by this code or by any other statute of this State, for which a sentence of imprisonment in excess of 6 months is authorized, constitutes a crime within the meaning of the Constitution of this State. Crimes are designated in this code as being of the first, second, third or fourth degree.
b. An offense is a disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code. An offense is a petty disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code.
Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are petty offenses and are not crimes within the meaning of the Constitution of this State. There shall be no right to indictment by a grand jury nor any right to trial by jury on such offenses. Conviction of such offenses shall not give rise to any disability or legal disadvantage based on conviction of a crime.
c. An offense defined by any statute of this State other than this code shall be classified as provided in this section or in section 2C:43-1 and, except as provided in section 2C:1-5b and chapter 43, the sentence that may be imposed upon conviction thereof shall hereafter be governed by this code. Insofar as any provision outside the code declares an offense to be a misdemeanor when such offense specifically provides a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment or less, whether or not in combination with a fine, such provision shall constitute a disorderly persons offense.
d. Subject to the provisions of section 2C:43-1, reference in any statute, rule, or regulation outside the code to the term “high misdemeanor” shall mean crimes of the first, second, or third degree and reference to the term “misdemeanor” shall mean all crimes.