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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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An Introduction to the No Early Release Act (NERA)

New Jersey criminal defense lawyer

The No Early Release Act (NERA) is a New Jersey law that imposes minimum mandatory terms of incarceration on individuals convicted of certain violent crimes. The idea behind the NERA is that the public is best served by preventing violent criminals from being set free from prison and endangering the safety of others. As a result, the NERA requires defendants convicted of enumerated violent criminal offenses to remain behind bars for a fixed amount of time.

A person convicted of one of the crimes listed in the NERA is ineligible to be released on parole until they have served at least 85 percent of their sentence. Prior to the passage of the NERA, most people convicted of a crime in New Jersey gained parole eligibility after serving approximately 33 percent of their sentence.

The long list of crimes covered by the NERA includes Murder, Aggravated Manslaughter and Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Aggravated Assault, Kidnapping, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault, Robbery, Carjacking, Aggravated Arson, Burglary, and Extortion. One striking feature of this list is that not all of these “violent” crimes tend to involve violence – yet an individual who is convicted of any crime enumerated by the NERA will still be subject to enhanced penalties and a lengthier prison sentence.

Additionally, the NERA requires an offender to complete a mandatory period of parole supervision after they have completed their sentence and secured their release from prison. The length of the offender’s parole is determined by the type of crime, with first degree felonies resulting in five years of parole and second degree felonies resulting in three years of parole. Keep in mind that any kind of parole violation could lead to the offender being sent back to prison for the remainder of their parole period.


If you have been charged with a violent crime in Atlantic County, NJ, it is imperative that you have a qualified criminal defense lawyer 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 the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

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