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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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When Misdemeanors Become Felony Charges

silhouette of a man in window with barsAny kind of criminal charge should be taken seriously. Whether the infraction was big or small, it is always important to fight tooth and nail for a proper case. That said, some criminal charges hold a much heavier weight than others. One of the best examples of this is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. While both are charges, they carry very different penalties and can affect the charged party differently.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Misdemeanors, known as “Disorderly Persons Offenses” in the state of New Jersey, occur when a person is arrested for an offense. Misdemeanors offer a lesser form of a crime.

What is considered a misdemanor?

In the state of New Jersey, any of the following can be classified as a misdemeanor or disorderly person’s charge:

  • simple assault
  • obstruction of justice
  • disorderly conduct
  • shoplifting
  • and more

Misdemeanor charges generally do not require a trial by a grand jury, but instead a municipal court. The penalties for misdemeanors are often nowhere near as heavy as a felony. With the right defense, it is possible to negotiate a plea bargain or reduced penalties.

A felony, known as an indictable crime in the state of New Jersey, can carry with it much higher penalties and extended jail time.

What is considered a felony?

Felonies are often classified as:

  • kidnapping
  • murder
  • burglary
  • arson
  • and more

In some cases, such as shoplifting, there could be a very minor difference between a misdemeanor and felony. Often, the only chance a person stands between one and the other is a strong defense. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference between a misdemeanor or a felony.


If you or a loved one is currently facing charges, be it disorderly person’s offense or an indictable crime, talk to a criminal defense lawyer who could help. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can contest the charges and help you fight, avoiding the most severe penalties. Contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation at 609-390-4600 or fill out the form below.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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