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New Jersey’s mandatory sentencing laws for violent crimes

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, mandatory sentencing laws play a significant role in the judicial process, especially concerning violent crimes. These required sentences are set and must be given by a judge when they convict someone of specific crimes. The aim is to reduce sentencing disparities and deter criminal behavior by ensuring consistent, severe penalties for specific offenses.

If you are facing conviction for a violent crime, it is important to understand the sentencing law.

No Early Release Act (NERA)

One piece of legislation regarding violent crimes is the No Early Release Act. NERA mandates that those convicted of violent crimes must serve at least 85% of their sentence before parole consideration. After serving this 85% minimum, the courts will then consider them for parole. This applies to a range of offenses, including murder, aggravated assault, robbery, and sexual assault.

Graves Act

The Graves Act mandates minimum sentencing for offenses involving illegal firearm possession and certain firearm-related crimes. This law requires convicted individuals to serve a minimum amount of time in prison before being eligible for parole. The minimum time is either a specific portion of their sentence or three years, whichever is longer.

Persistent offender accountability

New Jersey has laws called “three strikes laws” for repeat violent offenders. These laws result in longer sentences for individuals who commit violent crimes multiple times.

Impact and criticism

Critics argue that mandatory sentencing laws remove judicial discretion, potentially leading to harsh penalties for some offenders and contributing to prison overcrowding. There have been some changes to the law to allow for exceptions.

New Jersey has strict mandatory sentencing for violent crimes to keep the public safe and punish offenders harshly. However, this approach also raises significant questions about fairness and the best methods to achieve justice and reduce crime.