Disorderly Conduct Charges in New Jersey
Although it is not one of the most severely punished crimes in New Jersey, disorderly conduct can result in serious penalties — penalties that can include jail time and fines.
Disorderly conduct in New Jersey is a petty disorderly persons charge that is considered a breach of the peace. You can be arrested for disorderly conduct by engaging in improper behavior or using offensive language.
Improper Behavior – N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2(a)
- Committing violent or tumultuous behavior
- Creating a physically dangerous situation serving no legitimate purpose
An example of improper behavior might be initiating a fight in a bar or failing to obey the instructions of a law enforcement officer.
Offensive Language – N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2(b)
Offensive language is classified as using language in a public space to purposely offend a person who hears it or using offensive language in disregard of people present who might be offended.
An example of offensive language might be arguing with another fan at a sporting event or shouting obscenities at a cashier.
Disorderly Persons Offense Penalty
Classified as a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, disorderly conduct charges, similar to traffic offenses, are not technically considered a “crime.” However it authorizes your arrest, fingerprinting, and lock up prior to trial.
Disorderly conduct carries a maximum fine of $500 and the potential of 6 months jail time. Jail time is not mandatory, but in each case, it is a possibility.
Along with the fine, there is typically an assessment to the Safe Neighborhood Service Fund and the Victim of Crime Compensation Board. There is also the possibility of restitution to the victim.
If a motor vehicle was used during a disorderly persons offense, the defendant may face a two year suspension of their license.
The statute of limitations is one year from the date of the offense.
Defending a Disorderly Persons Offense
An experienced attorney can often negotiate a favorable plea agreement with the prosecutor for a disorderly persons charge. The goal would be to get the charges dismissed altogether or to amend them down to municipal or borough ordinance violations.
By pleading guilty to an ordinance violation, the defendant is pleading guilty to a local ordinance instead of the criminal offense. This avoids a permanent criminal charge on their record. A fine is paid, and the case is resolved.
Avoiding a permanent criminal record can have a significant impact on a defendant’s life. A permanent criminal record could, among other things, make it difficult to obtain employment.
Another defense a seasoned legal team might recommend is negotiating with the prosecutor to drop the charges if the defendant agrees to an applicable improvement program such as anger management or treatment for alcohol abuse.
Does Disorderly Conduct Go on My Record?
Disorderly conduct goes on your record. If you were charged with disorderly conduct, arrested for it, fingerprinted and processed, there is a record, but it can be expunged.
- If the charge gets dismissed completely, you can immediately expunge the arrest record.
- If the charge is downgraded to a municipal ordinance violation, you can expunge the arrest record after two years.
- If you are admitted into the conditional dismissal program with the charge being dismissed at the end of your probation, you can expunge the arrest record after six months.
Hire a New Jersey Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing disorderly conduct charges and potential jail time, you need an experienced legal team to weigh your options and plan a defense focused on the best possible outcome. It starts with a no cost, no obligation consultation from Rosenberg | Perry & Associates. Contact us on our website or call today at (609) 216-7400.