Like many Jersey shore towns, Avalon sees lots of tourists flock to its beaches and bars throughout the year, but especially in the summertime. While most people’s time in Avalon is filled with fun and laughter, things can quickly go south if your behavior gets unruly and you end up charged with disorderly conduct. While this might seem like a relatively minor charge, in reality it can come with serious consequences that will plague you long into the future.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Avalon, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers have years of experience fighting to get these charges downgraded or dismissed for our clients. Whether you are a year-round Avalon resident or just a visitor, we will be there with you every step of the way, explaining the process, answering any questions, and serving as your fearless advocate inside and outside of the courtroom. For a free consultation, call our office today at (609) 616-4956.
Disorderly Conduct Charges in Avalon, NJ
The charge of disorderly conduct covers a broad range of activities and behaviors. What these activities and behaviors have in common is that they occur in the public and they disturb the peace in some way. Furthermore, they 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.
Below, we describe the three categories that disorderly conduct behaviors can generally be classified into.
Fighting or Violent/Threatening Behavior
The first category of disorderly conduct is defined under the applicable section of the law as “[engaging] in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.” There are separate charges, such as assault, that will apply to actions taken during a public fight, like kicking or slapping someone. The act of the public fight itself, however, and the disturbance it caused, are considered disorderly conduct. It can be charged in addition to a crime like assault, or, in cases where there was no clear instigator, it can be charged to all parties involved in the fight in lieu of assault charges being filed. Certain threatening language is also considered disorderly conduct under this category.
Hazardous or Physically Dangerous Behavior
The second type of disorderly conduct is described in the code as “creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.” Much like the overall disorderly conduct charge, this category serves as a sort of catch-all and is inclusive of many different types of hazardous conduct, even if they do not result in actual harm. For example, sneaking a smoke machine into a restaurant and turning it on to create a ruckus and smoke out the customers would likely be considered disorderly conduct under this section.
The third type of disorderly conduct is described as using language that is “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive” in public “with the purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing.” Of course, the First Amendment offers a large amount of protection to those who use offensive language. To be charged under this section, the language must also have been spoken loudly, in public, and directed at a person or group of people. For example, screaming out racial epithets at a black city council member marching in a parade would likely qualify as disorderly conduct under this section.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Avalon, NJ
Under New Jersey criminal law, disorderly conduct is what is known as a petty disorderly persons offense. This is the lowest type of criminal charge there is, equivalent to what most other states call an infraction. Nonetheless, this charge can come with serious long-term consequences. First and foremost, if convicted, you can face criminal penalties of up to 30 days in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Second, the conviction will be on your criminal record, which could make it far for more difficult for you to get a job or apply to school in the future.
How a Disorderly Conduct Case Works in Avalon, NJ
Sometimes, for petty disorderly persons offense such as this one, the police will simply issue you a citation with your court information on it and let you go on your way. Other times, you might be arrested and transported to the local police station to be booked. After booking, you will be kept in the holding cell or transferred to the local detention center to await your bail hearing, which usually must occur within 48 hours of your booking.
Since New Jersey virtually eliminated cash bail in 2017, the judge at the bail hearing will choose between releasing you with no conditions except returning for court, releasing you with non-monetary conditions such as attending drug rehab, or holding you in jail until the matter is resolved. While it is not typical for a judge to hold someone for a petty disorderly persons offense, it is possible. You should always have an experienced bail hearing attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych with you at this hearing to argue for your release without cumbersome conditions.
The case will then begin with an arraignment in the municipal court, where your lawyer is like to advise you to enter an initial not guilty plea. Then, we can work on negotiating a deal with the prosecutor, potentially to get you into a pre-trial intervention program which will result in your charges being dropped if you complete it successfully. If you do not wish to take a deal, our skilled trial lawyers are always ready to fight for your innocence in the courtroom.
Call Our Seasoned Avalon, NJ Disorderly Conduct Lawyers Today
Despite the fact that disorderly conduct is classified as a petty disorderly persons offense, the consequences you could face for a conviction are anything but petty. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych our skilled Avalon, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers know how to successfully fight for your charges to be downgraded or dismissed and for your case to be brought to the best possible resolution for you and your future. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.