The framework for classifying criminal charges in NJ does not follow the traditional approach of many states. Most jurisdictions categorize crimes in terms of Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses. Our criminal code does not subscribe to this approach and, instead, speaks in terms of Indictable Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses.
A felony is typically viewed as any charge that involves a potential period of incarceration of more than six (6) months. Under New Jersey law, this would include First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree crimes. All of these grades of offense involve jail exposure exceeding a year. Therefore, they fall within the traditional definition for a “felony”. Additionally, the US Constitution mandates that a state indict an individual before they may be convicted of a “crime” or felony. First, Second, Third, and Fourth Degree crimes carry a right of indictment in NJ so they, again, are felonies on this basis as well.
This explanation is provided as individuals are often unaware of whether they are the subject of a felony or misdemeanor when they receive a complaint. If the charge involves a crime of any “Degree”, it is a felony.