Even though they can seem like minor offenses, disorderly conduct in New Jersey is penalized with stiff consequences.
Being a law-abiding New Jersey citizen seems like a straightforward task, but there are many minute ways a person can end up on the wrong side of the law. Engaging in disorderly conduct is one of them, and many New Jerseyans find themselves with a criminal disorderly conduct charge as a result of relatively minor, nonviolent behavior. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, your life could be changed for the worse due to potential long-term consequences. You need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 to learn how we can help. Read on to learn more about criminal disorderly conduct in New Jersey.
What it Means to be Charged with Disorderly Conduct in New Jersey
Disorderly conduct is a criminal misdemeanor, or disorderly persons charge, in New Jersey, which results from behavior deemed by a judge to be improper or offensive. A person who is found to act in a way intended to cause a public disturbance, be it annoyance or fear, can be charged with disorderly conduct.
Law About Disorderly Conduct
According to N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2, disorderly conduct is the petty disorderly person’s (criminal) offense that purposefully causes “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly [creates] a risk thereof.” According to the 2009 law, disorderly conduct is categorized as either improper or offensive behavior that is conducted in a public setting.
What Actions are Deemed to be Improper?
N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2 states that improper behavior includes publicly fighting, threatening, or engaging in violent behavior. It also consists of creating risk to others without legitimate reason or necessity.
What Kind of Language is Considered Offensive?
Offensive language, according to the law, includes the active offense of the sensibilities of those present by the use of loud and coarse language. The audience present, setting, and other factors, as well as the behavior of the perpetrator, affect whether someone can be rightfully charged with a criminal disorderly persons offense for offensive language.
Examples of Disorderly Conduct and its Occurrence
Common examples of disorderly conduct include drunk and disorderly behavior, public heckling, rioting, engaging in a bar fight, and making threatening comments or behaviors, though the range of disorderly conduct offenses is varied.
Legal Repercussions of Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct is a petty criminal disorderly persons offense, which is equivalent to a criminal misdemeanor. The result of such a charge is up to 30 days in jail and a $500 financial penalty, as well as potential alternative or additional consequences such as restitution paid for damaged items, community service, and probation. Additionally, because disorderly conduct is technically a criminal offense, the charge will remain on one’s criminal record.
Is Jail a Possibility for Disorderly Conduct?
The judge may order that a person convicted of disorderly conduct serve up to a month in jail. However, particularly for first-time offenders convicted of nonviolent disorderly conduct, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help the person pursue alternative sentencing options.
Alternative Sentencing Options in Disorderly Conduct Cases
Alternative sentencing options for a disorderly conduct charge in New Jersey include conditional dismissal, as well as having a charge lowered to a municipal ordinance violation and other case-specific options, as in the case of military veterans battling alcoholism or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Conditional Dismissal for Disorderly Conduct
Conditional dismissal is an option often exercised by first-time offenders, in which a defendant can ensure the charge be dismissed at end of the case in exchange for following a set of conditions during an extended period of monitoring. In essence, conditional dismissal is an alternative sentencing option that occurs when a defendant pleads guilty and is placed under probationary supervision. Upon meeting the conditions of the probationary term, the person’s charge is dropped. They also become eligible for an expungement within 6 months to remove the offense from their record.
Reduction of Disorderly Conduct to a Town Ordinance
A defendant can often have a disorderly conduct charge reduced to a municipal ordinance violation with an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for them in court. A municipal ordinance violation, also known as a town code violation, is not a criminal offense and is equivalent to a minor civil code violation such as a noise complaint.
In Morris County, disorderly conduct charges are specific and can be serious for your long-term outcomes without a solid defense. As a result, having your criminal charge lowered to a municipal ordinance can mean the difference between paying a fine and moving on, or dealing with the costs and consequences of a criminal disorderly conduct conviction.
Concerned About Disorderly Conduct Charges in New Jersey? Get Help
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Parsippany, Mount Olive, Florham Park, East Hanover, Dover, Madison, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your behalf. Having your charges downgraded or dismissed is possible, especially if your lawyer has handled thousands of disorderly conduct cases in municipal courts statewide for years. Call 973-524-7238 to speak to an attorney in a free and confidential consultation. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.