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What Is An Aggravated Crime In New Jersey?


Overview of Aggravated Crimes in NJ

Every state has a way to classify criminal offenses from minor infractions to the most serious ones. In New Jersey, this scales from the least serious being called disorderly persons offenses (known in other places as misdemeanors) to indictable offenses (more commonly known as felonies) that are categorized by degree, the first degree being the most serious.

When it comes to charging criminal offenses, prosecutors have the option of taking aggravating factors into account to determine just how serious the crime should be classified. An aggravating factor is behavior and other facts that indicate the crime should be considered more serious than the base charge. So what are these factors, and how can they affect someone’s criminal charges?

Aggravating Factors: Use Of A Deadly Weapon

Aggravating factors indicate that the elements of a certain crime have been met, but extra facts indicate that the offense is more serious than the baseline. The most common aggravating factor is the use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime. Robbing a store with a gun or knife is one of the easiest ways to explain this. The baseline charge is theft, but if the accused has a deadly weapon in their hand while committing the offense, this turns the basic theft into a more serious crime. In cases like this it does not matter if the accused meant to use the weapon or not; the very fact that the weapon is present during the commission of the crime means that the risk of deadly consequences are present. If someone uses a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime, the prosecutor will charge the accused with a more serious crime automatically. 

Aggravating Factors: Financial Considerations

Another way that prosecutors can elevate a criminal charge is by considering the financial amount stolen, often through theft and fraud crimes. Simple theft may see the defendant charged with a lower degree, but if the amount stolen is large, the charge may be more serious. For example, theft of a ten dollar shirt will not be charged as seriously as stealing a $10,000 piece of electronic equipment. White collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement may see higher punishment if the amount stolen is significant. The aggravating tag usually comes into play when the number rises above $20,000, but every case is different and the prosecutor will decide based on those specific circumstances if an aggravating designation is necessary. Stealing from social programs like Medicare will also often receive an aggravating designation.  

Seek Legal Help For Aggravated Charges

Any crime can carry serious consequences, but if you are arrested and charged with a crime and the prosecutor is seeking higher punishment due to an aggravating factor, it is imperative that you seek the services of an attorney. They may be able to help you negotiate with the prosecutor to plead to a less serious charge, making the negative impact on your future less serious. At the end of the day, it is their goal to get you the best deal possible. 

Contact An Experienced NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges Today!

Were you arrested or charged with a crime in NJ? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Hanlon Dunn Robertson Schwartz have successfully represented clients in criminal matters in Morristown, Rockaway, Denville, and throughout New Jersey. Call 973-425-5066 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 33 Market Street, Morristown, NJ 07960 as well as an office at 317 George Street, 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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