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Understanding misdemeanor classification in New Jersey

It is usually difficult, at least at first, for an individual accustomed to the legal language of other states, or to a more generalized popular terminology, to understand the definitions and gradations of crimes in New Jersey. This is due in part to the fact that the state uses an indictable and non-indictable classification rather than a misdemeanor and felony system. Here are some of the special challenges that face an individual accused of a non-indictable offense in the Garden State, such as theft under $200, assault, shoplifting or a traffic violation.

New Jersey makes an important distinction between the two types of offenses, namely that only indictable offenses are considered crimes. The Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor lists some examples of indictable crimes, including:

  • Homicide
  • Aggravated violent crimes
  • Severe sexual crimes

Complaints for indictable offenses in the state might result in the court issuing a warrant. This document allows any New Jersey law officer to arrest the named individual.

The process is different for non-indictable misdemeanors. Defendants named in these types of complaints might expect to be summoned to court. The New Jersey Courts' rules state that any sworn complaint before an officer of the court will result in a request for the accused to come stand before the court: a summons, in other words. This document is directed to the defendant in the document.

Individuals typically use the period between receiving a summons and appearing in court to develop legal strategy. Defendants who miss their first summons date should expect their court date to be rescheduled by the court. Missing this first rescheduled date might result in consequences, including more stringent penalties than might have been assigned otherwise.

 

 

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