There are many criminal laws enacted in New Jersey. The legislature has designed that specific crimes can mandate the convicted to serve a specific amount of time in prison.
After you have served at least 85% of your sentence, you may be eligible for parole under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. However, this may not be the case should specific parameters exist.
Here is everything you need to know about the No Early Release Act—or NERA:
What is the No Early Release Act?
The No Early Release Act—or NERA—falls under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The law imposes a minimum mandatory sentence of being imprisoned for people convicted of certain violent crimes.
NERA was enacted to prevent violent criminals from being released from prison and endangering the public. People convicted of these crimes must remain incarcerated for a fixed period of time.
The term of incarceration can be known to vary quite severely. The individual receives a “flat sentence” which is typically one-third to one-half of the prison term sentence being served before parole eligibility.
Legislature has continued to enact new acts that mandate a person convicted of violent crimes to have a mandatory parole ineligibility period. This can be devastating for the person convicted and their families.
What Crimes Can Land You in NERA?
A defendant convicted of a violent crime may land in NERA. The violent crimes that are covered by NERA include:
- Murder: N.J.S.A.: 2C:11-3
- Aggravated Manslaughter or Manslaughter: N.J.S.A.: 2C:11-4,
- Vehicular Homicide: N.J.S.A.: 2C:11-5
- Aggravated Assault: N.J.S.A.: 2C:12-1
- Disarming a Law Enforcement Officer: N.J.S.A.: 2C:12-11
- Kidnapping: N.J.S.A.: 2C:13-1
- Aggravated Sexual Assault: N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2
- Sexual Assault: N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2
- Robbery: N.J.S.A.: 2C:15-1
- Carjacking: N.J.S.A.: 2C:15-2
- Aggravated Arson: N.J.S.A.: 2C:17-1
- Burglary: N.J.S.A.: 2C:18-2
- Extortion: N.J.S.A.: 2C:20-5
- Booby traps in manufacturing or distribution facilities; N.J.S.A.: 2C:20-5
- Strict liability for drug-induced deaths: N.J.S.A.: 2C:35-9
- Terrorism: N.J.S.A.: 2C:38-2
- Producing/Possessing Chemical Weapons, Biological Agents/Nuclear/Radiological Devices: N.J.S.A. 2C:38-3
- Racketeering: N.J.S.A.: 2C:41-2
You may notice that not all of the aforementioned ‘violent’ crimes include violence. However, anyone convicted of these crimes will be subjected to more severe penalties. Their incarceration lengths will additionally be longer than other crimes.
Possible Penalties if Convicted
If you are convicted of any of the aforementioned violent crimes, there are several possible penalties you may face. The judge will impose a minimum prison sentence for the ineligibility of parole. This includes that at least 85% of your term must be served.
If you receive a life sentence conviction, you will not be eligible for parole for 75 years based on the No Early Release Act. Consequently, if you plead or are found guilty of the violent crime in the first degree, the judge will impose a 5-year parole supervision term.
If you plead guilty to or are convicted of a second-degree violent crime, a 3-year parole supervision term is imposed. The parole supervision is maintained on “release status” in the community. You will be under the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections until the period has been successfully completed.
How Does NERA Apply to Guns and Weapons Offenses?
The NERA statute targets individuals who commit “violent and cruel” offenses. The Act on its own is not specifically targeting firearm offenses. The Act does apply when the person who uses a firearm uses it to commit a violent act.
Robberies, murders, kidnapping, etc. can utilize the use of a deadly weapon. Although NERA is not specifically designed for guns and weapons, it can fall under the act when a weapon is used to commit a violent crime.
What To Do if You are Convicted of a NERA Offense
If you are convicted of a violent crime under NERA, you must immediately contact a New Jersey defense attorney. The Bianchi Law Group specializes in NERA offenses and can help navigate you through the legal process.
Our team of aggressive defense lawyers will defend you and protect your rights. There are specific tactics that can be applied to either amend or reduce the charges. Although you must serve the minimum sentence under NERA, the severity of the charge can be reduced to a lower-degree offense. The Act will then no longer be applicable.
If your charges are reduced to a non-NERA offense, you will no longer have to serve the mandatory imprisonment sentence. You may even be eligible for probation or PTI. That can ultimately lead to the dismissal of your case. Therefore, it is imperative to have proper legal representation.
Call The Bianchi Law Group today!