Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed into law several leftover bills from the prior year’s legislative session. Among the newly enacted legislation was bill A-3254. The bill amends N.J.S.A. 2B:12-23.1, “Penalties Payable in Installments; Alternative Penalties.” The revised statute’s language now allows municipal court judges to order a person found guilty of a crime to perform community service instead of paying a fine.
The altered statute offers relief for offenders who are unable to pay court fines by allowing them to perform community service instead of going to jail. Ordinarily, when a defendant fails to pay a court-imposed fine or fails to make a time-payment, the municipal court judge can sentence the defendant to county jail time. The defendant is then given credit (usually around $50) against the amount owed for each day of confinement.
The new amendment serves the interests of justice and efficiency by providing municipal judges with flexibility when sentencing offenders for crimes such as disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. As a result, county jails are less likely to be overwhelmed by time-payment offenders. Ultimately, this could save NJ taxpayers thousands of dollars while still allowing courts to levy meaningful punishments as deterrents to crime.
To read the full text version of A-3254, visit the NJ Legislature website.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, contact Morristown NJ criminal defense attorney Alissa D. Hascup for a free consultation about your case.