No Early Release Act Lawyers in Hudson County, New Jersey
In New Jersey, commission of some specific crimes of violence requires individuals to serve a certain amount of jail time before they are released from state prison or considered for parole. The law authorizing such sentences is known as NERA. NERA stands for the No Early Release Act. If you or anyone you know has been charged with an offense under this provision in New Jersey, serious consequences will be implemented if found guilty. To that end, it is important that you find the right criminal defense attorney for your case, who will hit the ground running, fighting for you, and against the high severity charges you are facing. At Proetta & Oliver, our experienced criminal defense lawyers have represented scores of clients charged with eligible crimes under the No Early Release Act (NERA) in Hudson County, including those arrested in Jersey City, Bayonne, Hoboken, Weehawken, Kearny, Union City, and Secaucus. We are here to discuss your case and how we can help with zealous defense representation. Simply call (201) 793-8018 or contact us online for a free consultation today.
What is NERA in New Jersey?
The No Early Release Act, or NERA, is a provision under the law in New Jersey requiring mandatory state prison sentences to be served before the convicted individual becomes eligible for parole. The law was enacted in 1997, when Governor Christie Todd Whitman was in office, and was implemented to deter people from committing violent offenses and to require uniform sentencing when such offenses are committed throughout the state. Specifically, the law applies to first and second degree crimes as listed under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. If convicted, it forces the judge to send you to jail and to serve 85% of your sentence before the Department of Corrections can even consider your parole or release. The crimes listed under this section are crimes of violence or those involving weapons.
What are considered No Early Release Act offenses under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2?
The NERA statute is entitled “mandatory service of 85% of sentence for certain offenses.” The statute lists offenses that are subject to such sentencing provisions. Crimes of the first or second degree directing you to serve 85% before you are released are as follows:
- Aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter;
- Vehicular homicide;
- Aggravated assault;
- Disarming a law enforcement officer;
- Aggravated sexual assault;
- Sexual assault;
- Carjacking section 1;
- Aggravated arson;
- Booby traps in manufacturing or distribution facilities;
- Strict liability for drug induced deaths;
- Producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices; or
- Racketeering, when it is a crime of the first degree.
Sentencing for NERA Crimes in NJ
For crimes falling under NERA, you will serve 85% of the sentence imposed. For example, if you are sentenced to 5 years per NERA, it means that you must serve 51 months out of a 60-month sentence. Additionally, the court will impose a 5-year term of parole supervision upon release for first degree crimes and a 3-year term for second degree crimes. For NERA crimes, the potential length of incarceration goes up with the degree of the crime. For second degree crimes, you will be sentenced to 5-10 years in state prison with 85% to be served before eligible for parole. This number is elevated for first degree crimes to 10-20 years in prison, with 85% incarceration term prior to parole eligibility. To use the most extreme example, if you are sentenced to 20 years in prison under the No Early Release Act, you will be forced to serve 17 years before you are even eligible for parole.
What is the difference between a regular sentence and a sentence under the No Early Release Act?
Attorneys, Defendants, and Judges alike often refer to some state prison terms as “flat.” The term “flat” is used to mean that there is no stipulation of parole ineligibility. While the ultimate determination of your release is made by the Department of Corrections, generally, when you receive a flat sentence, you can expect to be eligible for early parole release after having served thirty percent of the imposed sentence. For example, if you are sentenced to 5 flat (60 months), ordinarily you could be eligible for release on parole in as little as 20 months. This is just an example and flat sentences can vary depending on conduct while in custody, among other things. Conversely, in the aforementioned scenario sentenced under NERA, you would be mandated to serve 51 months. Overall, if you are sentenced for a crime subject to the No Early Release Act sentencing requirements, there is a term that you simply must fulfill incarcerated, extending the time frame before parole is even an option.
Consult a Jersey City NERA Attorney for Your Criminal Defense
The potential loss of your freedom for prolonged periods is high in No Early Release Act cases, underscoring the need for sound legal counsel. We understand that your freedom is important to you and those around you and we will fight for your rights. If you have been charged with a NERA offense, get ahead of it and contact our criminal lawyers serving all of Hudson County, New Jersey today. A member of our defense team is available now at (201) 793-8018 to provide you with answers in a free consultation.