New Jersey Criminal Records
What Is a Criminal Record in New Jersey?
New Jersey criminal records are official documentation provided by state and local courts, detention centers, and law enforcement documents regarding the criminal activities of convicted individuals. These include records prepared for felony and misdemeanor arrests, prosecutions, sentencing, incarceration, probation and parole.
What Is Contained in a Criminal Record?
The information provided in a New Jersey criminal record include:
- Name of the individual accused and/or convicted of a criminal offense, including known aliases
- Personal identifying data of the subject include gender, race, and date of birth
- Subject’s full set of fingerprints and mugshot
- Past criminal offenses and indictments
- Past and outstanding warrants and arrest history
- Past conviction record
What are Arrest Records?
New Jersey arrest records provide information about arrests made by officers of state and local law enforcement agencies. These official documents also contain information about the incidents that led to the arrests described. An arrest record is not proof of guilty or admission of culpability. It simply indicates that an individual was brought in for questioning and booked. An arrest may occur immediately after a crime or following an investigation. New Jersey arrest records contain the following information:
- Names of the arrested individual as well as identifying marks on their person
- Subject’s age, gender, height, weight, and race
- Where and when the arrest happened
- Criminal charge(s) informing the arrest
- Name of the law enforcement officer
- Detention facility where the offender was booked
What Is an Arrest Warrant?
A New Jersey arrest warrant is an official court document authorizing the detention of a defendant by law enforcement officers. Courts issue arrest warrants in New Jersey after law enforcement officers demonstrate probable cause. A summons is different from an arrest warrant. A summons requires an individual to appear in court on their own accord. Warrants are issued for serious crimes. Reasons why New Jersey judges issue arrest warrants include:
- Parole violation
- Probation violation
- Failure to appear in court or pay a court-ordered fine (bench warrant)
- Criminal complaint filing
New Jersey Court rule mandates that an arrest warrant must include the following details:
- Defendant’s name
- Court where the defendant must appear
- Signature of judge or court administration approving the warrant and acknowledging probable cause
- Bail amount/conditions
What are Crime Classifications in New Jersey?
Unlike other states, New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies and misdemeanors. Rather, it classifies them as indicted crimes, disorderly person crimes, and petty disorderly person crimes. Indicted crimes are equivalents of felonies while misdemeanors are the same as disorderly and petty disorderly person crimes.
What are Misdemeanors in New Jersey?
New Jersey refers to misdemeanors as offenses and felonies as crimes. The more serious misdemeanors in the state are disorderly person crimes. These are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fine. Examples of disorder person crimes are shoplifting, assault, resisting arrest, and possession of under 50 grams of marijuana.
Petty disorderly person crimes are the least serious criminal offenses in New Jersey that can be punished by a jail term. They are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fine. Harassment and disorderly conduct are examples of petty disorder person crimes.
What are Felonies in New Jersey?
Felonies or indictable crimes are punishable by at least one year in prison. New Jersey classifies these crimes by degrees. A grand jury has to review an indictable crime case and decide whether the defendant should stand trial or not. The grand jury issues an indictment for trials that proceed. There are four degrees of indictable crimes in the state. The most serious crimes are first-degree indictable crimes while the least serious ones are fourth-degree crimes
- First-degree crimes in New Jersey include murder, manslaughter, and rape. A basic sentence for a first-degree indictable crime is 10 -20-year prison term. Certain crimes, such as murder, may be punished with 20 - 30 years in prison or life term. The court may also find people convicted of first-degree crimes up to $200,000
- Second-degree crimes are punishable by 5 - 10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Examples include sex crimes, aggravated arson, burglary, kidnapping, white collar crimes, and drug crimes
- Third-degree crimes are punishable by 3 - 5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. These include arson, some robbery offenses, possession of controlled substances, and some driving under the influence (DUI) offenses
- Fourth-degree crimes are punished by up to 1.5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Examples include stalking, some robbery offenses, some DUI offenses, and forgery
New Jersey Sex Offender Listings
New Jersey sex offender listings include the names of registered sex offenders living in the state and required to register under the state’s Megan’s Law. The Division of State Police collates registered sex offender data in a central database made available to the public online. While there are three tiers of sex offenders in the state, the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry only provides information about tier 3 and tier 2 (with exceptions) offenders.
Tier 3 sex offenders are most likely to re-offend while tier 2 offenders have moderate risk of re-offense. Information contained in the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry include:
- offender's name and address including aliases used by the offender;
- any Megan's Law sex offenses committed by the offender, including a brief description and the date and location of disposition of any such offense;
- general description of the offender's preferences and methods, if any;
- assigned risk of re-offense (moderate or high);
- the offender's age, race, sex, date of birth, height, weight, hair, eye color and any distinguishing marks;
- a photograph of the offender and date added to the registry;
- make, model, color, year and license plate number of any vehicle operated by the offender
New Jersey’s Megan’s Law
New Jersey passed the Megan’s Law in 1994 to prevent incidences like rape and subsequent murder of Megan Kanka, a 7-year old girl. The law mandates the registration of convicted sex offenders and ensures the local law enforcement officers, communities, and neighbors are informed when offenders most likely to reoffend get out of prison. New Jersey regards failure to register under the law as a fourth-degree crime.
What is a Serious Traffic Violation?
In New Jersey, serious traffic violations lead to the addition of points on offender’s driving records. These violations may attract additional punishments including suspension of license, fines, and criminal liability. Examples of serious traffic violations in New Jersey are driving over the speed limit, reckless driving, tailgating, failure to yield to a pedestrian or another motorist, driving under the influence (DUI), and causing an accident resulting in injury or death.
New Jersey classifies DUI as operating any vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Underage DUI is the term used for a motorist under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% or higher. Penalties for adults convicted of DUI include:
- Fines, fees and surcharges;
- License suspension;
- Ignition interlock device;
- Jail time;
- Community service; and
- Completion of Intoxicated Driver Program
Penalties for underage DUI include:
- Any combination of the minimum sentences listed above for adult DUI offenders;
- 15–30 days mandatory community service;
- Attendance of alcohol education and highway safety programs at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
A DUI offender under 17 years of age and unlicensed at the time of the incident is further subjected to a 30–90-day delay in processing their driver license.
What are Conviction Records?
Conviction records in New Jersey conviction records provide details of indictments, pleas, hearings, and sentencing of persons found guilty in criminal cases. Juries and judges determine convictions in felony and misdemeanor trials. Unlike arrest records, conviction records are only created when courts find individuals guilty of named crimes. Therefore, final judgments are essential parts of conviction records. A final judgement may be missing from a conviction record if removed by a pardon or if judgement has been reversed or set aside.
What are Jail and Inmate Records
New Jersey jail and inmate records are official documents describing the incarceration and planned releases of individuals incarcerated in state and local detention facilities in the state. The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) oversees the operations of all state-run detention facilities in the state. There are 13 state prisons in New Jersey. To find the records of inmate held in this facility, use the NJDOC Offender Search tool. Besides state-run prisons, there are also local jails in New Jersey.
County jails are run by sheriff’s offices while city jails are managed by police departments. To get the records of inmates held in these detention facilities, visit the websites of the local law enforcement agencies and contact them directly.
Where to get Parole Information?
The New Jersey State Parole Board maintains parole information for the state and provides access to these records upon request. Use the NJDOC Offender Search Form to find parolees in New Jersey. To request information about paroled offenders, send an email to NJSPB_Public_Info_Office@spb.state.nj.us. Requesting parole records from the State Parole Board requires submitting an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request. To do so, complete and submit an OPRA form.
What are Probation Records?
Probation records provide details of court-ordered supervised freedom of convicts serving their sentences outside of New Jersey prisons and jails. Convicts on probation in New Jersey are serving suspended sentences without spending time in prison. They need to abide by strict guidelines and submit to supervision by a probation officer. In addition to scheduled meetings with their probation officers, people on probation may also be required to submit to random drug tests, stay within specific geographical location, not possess weapons, and wear monitoring devices.
What are Juvenile Criminal Records?
Juvenile criminal records are court records describing criminal activities and subsequent trials of minors. New Jersey does not try juveniles as adults unless requested by the juveniles in question or prosecutors and approved by Family Court judges. Juveniles found guilty of crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and ordinance/statue violations are regarded as adjudicated rather than convicted.
New Jersey stores juvenile criminal records in the Juvenile Central Registry. Access to juvenile adjudication records is limited to juveniles, their legal counsels, parents/legal guardians, and certain agencies. Public access to these records is restricted except for victims and those involved in civil suits arising from juvenile delinquencies.
Juveniles may request courts to seal their criminal records. Such requests are likely to be granted for delinquents after a period of good behavior or if they enlist in the military. Note that sealing juvenile criminal records is not the same as expunging those records. New Jersey allows juveniles to request for the expungement of arrests that do not result in adjudication from their records. Juveniles requesting for their entire criminal records to be expunged must meet the following conditions:
- At least five years after getting discharged from legal custody or supervision
- Not convicted of a crime, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense for at least 5 years before applying for expungement
- Never had an adult conviction expunged
- Never had adult criminal charges dismissed following the completion of a treatment or diversion program
- Never adjudged a juvenile delinquent for an act if committed by an adult will constitute a crime not subject to expungement
New Jersey History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The accuracy of criminal records depends on when and how they were recorded. Those recorded before the computer systems were introduced for record-keeping are likely to have a fair amount of errors due to mistakes made while entering and codifying those records. Paper records are also likely to deteriorate in storage. On the other hand, computer systems make gathering, entering, storing, and retrieving records easier. New Jersey records kept using such systems are generally more accurate.
How to Find Criminal Records in New Jersey
Criminal records are available from New Jersey courts, detention centers, and law enforcement agencies at state and local levels. To find these records, visit the agency responsible for keeping those records. For example, statewide criminal history records are available from the New Jersey State Police. To access New Jersey criminal case records, visit the Criminal Cases portal of the New Jersey Courts Public Access website.