What is the No Early Release Act (NERA)?
Many people are aware that individuals convicted of crimes and sentenced to spend time in prison may not spend nearly as much time as they are sentenced to. Instead, they may only serve a portion of that time. But you also may have heard of "NERA" when it comes to the prison time associated with certain offenses, or heard that a case is "subject to NERA".
NERA stands for the No Early Release Act, which is found in the New Jersey Statutes at 2C:43-7.2. Under this act, there are certain offenses for which a person MUST serve at least 85% of the sentence imposed. So for example, if a person is sentenced to 10 years, subject to NERA, they MUST serve at least 8.5 years in prison before there is the possibility of parole. The law also then requires certain minimum amounts of time of parole supervision even after the person has been released.
The following crimes are subject to NERA, and therefore if a person is convicted of one of these crimes, he or she will have to serve at least 85% of the time sentenced:
(2)N.J.S.2C:11-4, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter;
(3)N.J.S.2C:11-5, vehicular homicide;
(4)subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:12-1, aggravated assault;
(5)subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1996, c.14 (C.2C:12-11), disarming a law enforcement officer;
(7)subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, aggravated sexual assault;
(8)subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-2 and paragraph (1) of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, sexual assault;
(10) section 1 of P.L.1993, c.221 (C.2C:15-2), carjacking;
(11) paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-1, aggravated arson;
(12) N.J.S.2C:18-2, burglary;
(13) subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:20-5, extortion;
(14) subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1997, c.185 (C.2C:35-4.1), booby traps in manufacturing or distribution facilities;
(15) N.J.S.2C:35-9, strict liability for drug induced deaths;
(16) section 2 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-2), terrorism;
(17) section 3 of P.L.2002, c.26 (C.2C:38-3), producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices;
(18) N.J.S.2C:41-2, racketeering, when it is a crime of the first degree:
(19) subsection i. of N.J.S.2C:39-9, firearms trafficking; or
(20) paragraph (3) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:24-4, causing or permitting a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act, knowing that the act may be reproduced or reconstructed in any manner, or be part of an exhibition or performance.
There is a separate form that Defendants sign when they are signing a plea agreement where they specifically acknowledge that they know they are pleading guilty to crime that is subject to NERA and that they will be required to serve 85% of the prison term imposed as well as face the additional parole period following their release.