N.J.S.A. 2C:1-5- Abolition of common law crimes; all offenses defined by statute; application of general provisions of the code; limitation of local government laws

Today’s statute is N.J.S.A. 2c:1-5.  This statute abolishes common law crimes in New Jersey and makes any criminal offense one defined by statute.  This is an important statute as courts have long held ignorance of the law to not be a defense for breaking the law.  When common law crimes could be charged a person would be unable to see all possible criminal acts simply by looking in the State’s legal codes.  The text of the statute is below:


a.  Common law crimes are abolished and no conduct constitutes an offense unless the offense is defined by this code or another statute of this State.

b.  The provisions of subtitle 1 of the code are applicable to offenses defined by other statutes.  The provisions of subtitle 3 are applicable to offenses defined by other statutes but the maximum penalties applicable to such  offenses, if specifically provided in the statute defining such offenses, shall  be as provided therein, rather than as provided in this code, except that if  the non-code offense is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of more than 18  months imprisonment, the provisions of section 2C:43-1b shall apply.

c.  This section does not affect the power to punish for contempt, either summarily or after indictment, or to employ any sanction authorized by law for the enforcement of an order or a civil judgment or decree.

d.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the local governmental units  of this State may neither enact nor enforce any ordinance or other local law or  regulation conflicting with, or preempted by, any provision of this code or  with any policy of this State expressed by this code, whether that policy be  expressed by inclusion of a provision in the code or by exclusion of that  subject from the code.

L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:1-5, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.  Amended by L.1979, c. 178, s. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.


If you have been charged with a criminal violation in New Jersey it is important to have an attorney fighting on your side.  Contact the Herron Law Firm today for a free consultation.