A criminal conviction in New Jersey carries severe punishments that could include a lengthy term of incarceration in NJ State Prison. Although an experienced criminal defense attorney can potentially help you avoid the most extreme penalties by getting you sentenced to probation or through some other alternative sentencing option, it might not be possible for you to avoid jail time. If you do happen to find yourself behind bars after being convicted of a crime, or after pleading guilty to a criminal offense, you may be able to shorten your stay in prison through parole. In fact, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for parole before you know it.
Parole Eligibility in New Jersey
Once you start your prison sentence, you will be notified of your initial parole eligibility date. In most cases, you will become eligible for parole after serving one-third of your sentence. However, there are a number of ways that you can shorten your sentence and become eligible for parole at an earlier date.
The easiest way to move up your parole eligibility date is to stay out of trouble while you are in prison. As you accrue commutation credits (also known as “good time”) for avoiding discipline by prison guards and staff, you will reduce your sentence. You can also shorten your time behind bars by earning work credits for performing jobs in prison and minimum custody credits by being classified as a minimum custody inmate who doesn’t require constant supervision. Beyond that, any time you spent in jail while awaiting trial and sentencing is considered jail credit and counts against your prison sentence.
Additionally, keep in mind that certain violent crimes, listed in the No Early Release Act (NERA), carry mandatory minimum sentences. Anyone convicted under the NERA will not be eligible for release on parole until they have served at least 85 percent of their prison sentence.
If you face criminal charges in Atlantic County or anywhere else in New Jersey, your best chance of beating the charges and staying out of jail is to have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your criminal charges and avoid prison. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.