Atlantic County, NJ Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
Throughout the year, but especially in the summer, thousands of tourists flock to the beach towns of Atlantic County for a fun-filled vacation. However, when folks are out and about partying, things can sometimes get out of hand. Whether you are a yearlong resident of Atlantic County or just a seasonal visitor, behavior that disturbs the public peace can get you charged with disorderly conduct. While this might sound like a relatively minor infraction, in reality it can lead to consequences that can haunt you for many years.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Atlantic County, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers have years of experience successfully defending clients on this charge in courtrooms throughout the county. We understand that your future is too important to be jeopardized by a single silly mistake, and we will be there with you every step of the way acting as your advocate and working to get the charges downgraded or dismissed. Call our office today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation
Disorderly Conduct Charges in Atlantic County, NJ
Because there is not one single definition of behavior that constitutes disorderly conduct, it is often referred to as a “catch-all” charge. However, one thing all variations of this charge have in common is that the behavior must have occurred in a public place, so the charge will not usually stick if the conduct happened in a private home. Further, the conduct must have been committed purposefully, meaning with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly, meaning that you should have been aware that your conduct could cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.
Broadly speaking, the types of behavior that qualify as disorderly conduct under the statute can be separated into three categories, to be described below.
Fighting or Violence
The first category of disorderly conduct is described in the code as “[engaging] in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.” Rather than the actions taken in the course of a fight, like throwing a punch, this language penalizes the act of disturbing the peace in the public place where the brawl occurred. This type of disorderly conduct can be charged alongside assault, or in lieu of it in cases where it is not clear who instigated the fight and all parties are charged. It can also apply to the use of threatening words that create panic or fear, such as yelling “I’m gonna kill someone in this bar right now!”
Hazardous or Physically Dangerous Behavior
The second category of disorderly conduct involves “creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.” This is a broad description. In practicality, this is usually charged when people behave in a way in a public place that could have put other people’s lives in danger, but did not end up causing any actual harm. For example, jumping up onto someone’s table at a restaurant and then jumping from table to table would probably be considered this type of disorderly conduct.
The third and final category of disorderly conduct is described as using offensive language in public “with the purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing.” The language must be “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive.” In certain instances, there may be First Amendment issues with this charge. An example would be screaming and cursing at a parking lot attendant for not getting your car fast enough in the middle of a public lot, or screaming out racial epithets in a black church.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Atlantic County, NJ
Disorderly conduct is classified as a petty disorderly persons offense, which is the lowest possible type of criminal charge, equivalent to what some states call infractions. However, this does not mean it that a disorderly conduct conviction does not have serious consequences for your life. First and foremost, you can face criminal penalties of up to 30 days in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The consequences do not end there, though, because you will have a criminal conviction on your record that could prevent you from getting employment or getting into college or grad school, among other things.
How a Disorderly Conduct Case Works in Atlantic County, NJ
Often for a minor charge like disorderly conduct, the police will just issue you a citation with a court date on it and let you go. If they arrest you, however, you will be transported to the local station and held in detention until a bail hearing can occur. While it is uncommon for a judge to hold someone in jail for a disorderly conduct charge, it can happen, and you should always have an experienced bail hearing attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych representing you at this hearing to make the best arguments to get you released without any cumbersome conditions.
Our lawyers can try to work out a deal where you enter into a pre-trial intervention program. If you complete this program successfully, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a record. If pre-trial intervention is not an option in your case, we will try to get the charges downgraded or dismissed in some other way. If you are not happy with any deal offered, our skilled trial attorneys are always ready and willing to take your case to the courtroom. Note, however, that the trial for this type of charge will occur before a single judge, not a jury.
Call Our Skilled Atlantic County, NJ Disorderly Conduct Lawyers Today
Disorderly conduct is a charge that can lead to serious penalties, including jail time and a criminal record that could haunt you for years. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Atlantic County, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers have successfully worked with many clients charged with this crime to get their charges downgraded or dismissed. We will leave no stone unturned in fighting for you. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.