N.J.S.A. 2C:1-1-N.J.S.A. 2C:1-4

The Herron Law Firm, LLC believes it is important that our clients are able to see the exact law related to their case.  That’s why each Saturday we post a section of statutes from New Jersey.  This new feature will begin with Title 2C, the Criminal Code, for the State of New Jersey.  The text of the statute comes directly from the New Jersey Legislature webpage and is accurate as of the date of this posting.  If you have any questions about your own situation please contact us today for a FREE CONSULATATION.

These sections of the Criminal Code establish the basis for the criminal laws of New Jersey,  instructions for how the Courts should construct (understand) the text, the principles behind the laws, the jurisdiction limitations of the laws, and the classes (i.e. misdemeanor, felony, indictable offense, and disorderly person offense) of criminal acts in New Jersey.

2C:1-1.  Short title;  rules of construction

    a.  This Title shall be known and may be cited as the  “New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice.”

b.  Except as provided in subsections c. and d. of this section, the code does not apply to offenses committed prior to its effective date and prosecutions and dispositions for such offenses shall be governed by the prior law, which is continued in effect for that purpose, as if this code were not in  force.  For the purposes of this section, an offense was committed after the  effective date of the code if any of the elements of the offenses occurred  subsequent thereto.

c.  In any case pending on or initiated after the effective date of the code  involving an offense committed prior to such date:

(1) The procedural provisions of the code shall govern, insofar as they are  justly applicable and their application does not introduce confusion or delay;

(2) The court, with the consent of the defendant, may impose sentence under  the provisions of the code applicable to the offense and the offender.

(3) The court shall, if the offense committed is no longer an offense under  the provisions of the code, dismiss such prosecution.

d.  (1) The provisions of the code governing the treatment and the release or discharge of prisoners, probationers and parolees shall apply to persons under sentence for offenses committed prior to the effective date of the code, except that the minimum or maximum period of their detention or supervision shall in no case be increased.

(2) Any person who is under sentence of imprisonment on the effective date of the code for an offense committed prior to the effective date which has been  eliminated by the code or who has been sentenced to a maximum term of imprisonment for an offense committed prior to the effective date which exceeds  the maximum established by the code for such an offense and who, on said  effective date, has not had his sentence suspended or been paroled or discharged, may move to have his sentence reviewed by the sentencing court and the court may impose a new sentence, for good cause shown as though the person had been convicted under the code, except that no period of detention or supervision shall be increased as a result of such resentencing.

e.  The provisions of the code not inconsistent with those of prior laws shall be construed as a continuation of such laws.

f.  The classification and arrangement of the several sections of the code have been made for the purpose of convenience, reference and orderly arrangement, and therefore no implication or presumption of a legislative construction is to be drawn therefrom.

g.  In the construction of the code, or any part thereof, no outline or analysis of the contents of said title or of any subtitle, chapter, article or section, no cross-reference or cross-reference note and no headnote or source note to any section shall be deemed to be a part of the code.

h.  If said title or any subtitle, chapter, article or section of the code,  or any provision thereof, shall be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid or  inoperative in whole or in part, by a court of competent jurisdiction, such  title, subtitle, chapter, article, section or provision shall, to the extent  that it is not unconstitutional, invalid or inoperative, be enforced and  effectuated, and no such determination shall be deemed to invalidate or make  ineffectual the remaining provisions of the title, or of any subtitle, chapter,  article or section of the code.

L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:1-1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.  Amended by L.1979, c. 178, s. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

2C:1-2.  Purposes; principles of construction 

    a.  The general purposes of the provisions governing the definition of offenses are:

(1)  To forbid, prevent, and condemn conduct that unjustifiably and inexcusably inflicts or threatens serious harm to individual or public interests;

(2)  To insure the public safety by preventing the commission of offenses through the deterrent influence of the sentences authorized, the rehabilitation of those convicted, and their confinement when required in the interests of public protection;

(3)  To subject to public control persons whose conduct indicates that they are disposed to commit offenses;

(4)  To give fair warning of the nature of the conduct proscribed and of the sentences authorized upon conviction;

(5)  To differentiate on reasonable grounds between serious and minor offenses; and

(6)  To define adequately the act and mental state which constitute each offense, and limit the condemnation of conduct as criminal when it is without fault.

b.  The general purposes of the provisions governing the sentencing of offenders are:

(1)  To prevent and condemn the commission of offenses;

(2)  To promote the correction and rehabilitation of offenders;

(3)  To insure the public safety by preventing the commission of offenses through the deterrent influence of sentences imposed and the confinement of offenders when required in the interest of public protection;

(4)  To safeguard offenders against excessive, disproportionate or arbitrary punishment;

(5)  To give fair warning of the nature of the sentences that may be imposed on conviction of an offense;

(6)  To differentiate among offenders with a view to a just individualization in their treatment;

(7)  To advance the use of generally accepted scientific methods and knowledge in sentencing offenders; and

(8)  To promote restitution to victims.

c.  The provisions of the code shall be construed according to the fair import of their terms but when the language is susceptible of differing constructions it shall be interpreted to further the general purposes stated in this section and the special purposes of the particular provision involved. The discretionary powers conferred by the code shall be exercised in accordance with the criteria stated in the code and, insofar as such criteria are not decisive, to further the general purposes stated in this section.

d.  Nothing contained in this code shall limit the right of a defendant and, subject only to the Federal and State constitutions, the right of the State to appeal or seek leave to appeal pursuant to law and Rules of Court.

L.1978, c.95; amended 1979,c.178,s.2; 1991,c.329,s.1.

   2C:1-3.  Territorial applicability.

a.   Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person may be convicted  under the law of this State of an offense committed by his own conduct or the  conduct of another for which he is legally accountable if:

(1)   Either the conduct which is an element of the offense or the result which is such an element occurs within this State;

(2)   Conduct occurring outside the State is sufficient under the law of this  State to constitute an attempt to commit a crime within the State;

(3)   Conduct occurring outside the State is sufficient under the law of this  State to constitute a conspiracy to commit an offense within the State and an  overt act in furtherance of such conspiracy occurs within the State;

(4)   Conduct occurring within the State establishes complicity in the commission of, or an attempt, or conspiracy to commit, an offense in another jurisdiction which also is an offense under the law of this State;

(5)   The offense consists of the omission to perform a legal duty imposed by the law of this State with respect to domicile, residence or a relationship to a person, thing or transaction in the State; or

(6)   The offense is based on a statute of this State which expressly prohibits conduct outside the State, when the conduct bears a reasonable relation to a legitimate interest of this State and the actor knows or should know that his conduct is likely to affect that interest.

b.   Subsection a.(1) does not apply when either causing a specified result or a purpose to cause or danger of causing such a result is an element of an offense and the result occurs or is designed or likely to occur only in another jurisdiction where the conduct charged would not constitute an offense, unless a legislative purpose plainly appears to declare the conduct criminal regardless of the place of the result.

c.   Except as provided in subsection g., subsection a. (1) does not apply when causing a particular result is an element of an offense and the result is caused by conduct occurring outside the State which would not constitute an offense if the result had occurred there, unless the actor purposely or knowingly caused the result within the State.

d.   When the offense is homicide, either the death of the victim or the bodily impact causing death constitutes a “result,” within the meaning of subsection a.(1) and if the body of a homicide victim is found within the State, it may be inferred that such result occurred within the State.

e.   This State includes the land and water, including the waters set forth in N.J.S.40A:13-2 and the air space above such land and water with respect to which the State has legislative jurisdiction.  It also includes any territory made subject to the criminal jurisdiction of this State by compacts between it and another state or between it and the Federal Government.

f.   Notwithstanding that territorial jurisdiction may be found under this section, the court may dismiss, hold in abeyance for up to six months, or, with the permission of the defendant, place on the inactive list a criminal prosecution under the law of this State where it appears that such action is in  the interests of justice because the defendant is being prosecuted for an offense based on the same conduct in another jurisdiction and this State’s interest will be adequately served by a prosecution in the other jurisdiction.

g.   When the result which is an element of an offense consists of inflicting a harm upon a resident of this State or depriving a resident of this State of a benefit, the result occurs within this State, even if the conduct occurs wholly outside this State and any property that was affected by the offense was located outside this State.

L.1978, c.95; amended 2003, c.184, s.1.

2C:1-4.  Classes of offenses

    a.  An offense defined by this code or by any other statute of this State, for which a sentence of imprisonment in excess of 6 months is authorized, constitutes a crime within the meaning of the Constitution of this State. Crimes are designated in this code as being of the first, second, third or fourth degree.

b.  An offense is a disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code.  An offense is a petty disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code.  Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons  offenses are petty offenses and are not crimes within the meaning of the  Constitution of this State.  There shall be no right to indictment by a grand  jury nor any right to trial by jury on such offenses. Conviction of such  offenses shall not give rise to any disability or legal disadvantage based on  conviction of a crime.

c.  An offense defined by any statute of this State other than this code shall be classified as provided in this section or in section 2C:43-1 and, except as provided in section 2C:1-5b and chapter 43, the sentence that may be imposed upon conviction thereof shall hereafter be governed by this code. Insofar as any provision outside the code declares an offense to be a misdemeanor when such offense specifically provides a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment or less, whether or not in combination with a fine, such provision shall constitute a disorderly persons offense.

d.  Subject to the provisions of section 2C:43-1, reference in any statute,  rule, or regulation outside the code to the term  “high misdemeanor” shall  mean crimes of the first, second, or third degree and reference to the term  “misdemeanor”  shall mean all crimes.

L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:1-4, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.  Amended by L.1979, c. 178, s. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1979;  L.1981, c. 290, s. 1, eff. Sept. 24, 1981.