mong the penalties for conviction of an offense, New Jersey courts may sentence offenders to pay fines.1 Additionally, the statute sets forth ordinary ranges for fines by degree of offense.2 Furthermore, state law provides criteria for fines the court must consider, find, and give a reason on the record before imposing a fine. Perhaps this is at least part of what people mean when they say crime doesn’t pay.
Ordinarily the court may sentence a convicted person to pay a fine up to:
- $200,000 for conviction of a first degree crime
- $150,000 for conviction of a second degree crime
- $15,000 for conviction of a third degree crime
- $10,000 for conviction of a fourth degree crime
- $1,000 for conviction of a disorderly persons offense
- $500 for conviction of a petty disorderly persons offense
Despite these ranges, New Jersey law also authorizes courts to sentence individuals to pay even higher fines for certain crimes and under certain circumstances. The remainder of this post, however, will provide the criteria for fines under New Jersey law.
Criteria for Fines, N.J.S.A. 2c:44-2
New Jersey law authorizes the court to sentence a defendant to pay a fine in addition to a sentence of imprisonment or probation if:
- The defendant has derived a pecuniary gain from the offense or the court is of opinion that a fine is specially adapted to deterrence of the type of offense involved or to the correction of the offender;
- The defendant can, or given a fair opportunity to do so, will be able to pay the fine; and
- The fine will not prevent the defendant from making restitution to the victim of the offense.
Additionally, the court must take into account the financial resources of the defendant and the nature of the burden that its payment will impose in determining the amount and method of payment of a fine. Furthermore, when the court sentences a defendant to pay a fine, the court shall not impose at the same time an alternative sentence if the defendant does not pay the fine. Instead, the response of the court to nonpayment shall be determined only after the fine or restitution has not been paid.
1 N.J.S.A. 2c:43-2.
2 N.J.S.A. 2c:43-3.