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Disorderly Persons Offense

About New Jersey Disorderly Persons Offenses

Disorderly Persons Offenses are criminal charges that are typically heard in New Jersey Municipal Courts.  Most people generically understand crimes to be designated as “felonies” and “misdemeanors.”  Some states, such as New York, use these classifications.  New Jersey does not.  Rather, New Jersey recognizes more serious offenses as crimes and less serious charges as Disorderly Persons Offenses.   While Disorderly Persons Offenses are not as serious as indictable criminal offenses, they nevertheless present the possibility of serious consequences.  As such, if you are charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense you should be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

New Jersey statute 2C:1-4 provides:

a. An offense defined by this code or by any other statute of this State, for which a sentence of imprisonment in excess of 6 months is authorized, constitutes a crime within the meaning of the Constitution of this State. Crimes are designated in this code as being of the first, second, third or fourth degree.

b. An offense is a disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code. An offense is a petty disorderly persons offense if it is so designated in this code or in a statute other than this code. Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are petty offenses and are not crimes within the meaning of the Constitution of this State. There shall be no right to indictment by a grand jury nor any right to trial by jury on such offenses. Conviction of such offenses shall not give rise to any disability or legal disadvantage based on conviction of a crime.

c. An offense defined by any statute of this State other than this code shall be classified as provided in this section or in section 2C:43-1 and, except as provided in section 2C:1-5b and chapter 43, the sentence that may be imposed upon conviction thereof shall hereafter be governed by this code. Insofar as any provision outside the code declares an offense to be a misdemeanor when such offense specifically provides a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment or less, whether or not in combination with a fine, such provision shall constitute a disorderly persons offense.

d. Subject to the provisions of section 2C:43-1, reference in any statute, rule, or regulation outside the code to the term “high misdemeanor” shall mean crimes of the first, second, or third degree and reference to the term “misdemeanor” shall mean all crimes.

New Jersey statute 2C:33-2 provides:

a. Improper behavior. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense, if with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he

(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or

(2) Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

b. Offensive language. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense if, in a public place, and with purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing, he addresses unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive language, given the circumstances of the person present and the setting of the utterance, to any person present.

“Public” means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

Common Disorderly Persons Offenses include Shoplifting, Resisting Arrest, Harassment, and Simple Assault.  Disorderly Persons Offenses can result in up to six months in jail, substantial fine, community service, probation and a criminal record.

This law firm has extensive experience representing clients throughout New Jersey charged with Disorderly Persons offenses.  We will negotiate with the prosecutor on behalf of our client and pursue a resolution that avoids criminal consequences.  If the prosecutor is unwilling to dismiss the charges, we will bring the case to trial.  If you are charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense, contact our office today for a free consultation.